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A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS.
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
No. 82 Clip F- Street.
I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly httle book, to raise the Ghosi of an
Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with
each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleas-
antly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
MiRLEY was dead : to begin with. There is
no doubt whatever about that. The register
of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the
clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.
Scrooge signed it : and Scrooge's name was
good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put
his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a
door-nail. , t i r
Mind ' I don't mean to say that I know, ol
my own knowledge, what there is particularly
dead about a door-nail. I might have been in-
clined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the
deadest piece of ironmongery m the trade.
But the wisdom of our ancestors is m the
simile- and my unhallowed hands shall not
disturb it, or the Country's done for. You will
therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically,
that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge knew he was dead % Of course he
did. How could it be otherwise ^ Scrooge
and he were partners for I don't know how
many years. Scrooge was his sole executor,
his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole
residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole
mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dread-
fully cut up by the sad event, but that he was
an excellent man of business on the very day
of the funeral, and solemnised it with an un-
The mention of Marley's funeral brings me
back to the point I started from. There is no
doubt that Marley was dead. This must be
distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can
come of the story I am going to relate. If we
were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Fa-
ther died before the play began, there would be
nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll
at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own
ramparts, than there would be in any other
middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after
dark in a breezy spot— say Saint Paul's Church-
yard for instance— literally to astonish his son's
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name.
There it stood, years afterwards, above the
warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The
firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Some-
times people new to the business called Scrooge
Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he an-
swered to both names : it was all the same to
Oh ! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the
grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching,
grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sin-
ner ! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no
steel had ever struck out generous fire ; secret,
and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
The cold within him froze his old features, nip-
ped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiflf-
ened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips
blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating
voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on
his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried
his own low temperature always about with
him ; he iced his office in the dog-days ; and
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on
Scrooge. No warmth could warm, nor wintry
weather chill him. No wind that blew was bit-
terer than he, no falling snow was more intent
upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to
entreaty. Foul weather didn't know where to
have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and
hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage
over him in only one respect. They often
"came down" handsomely, and Scrooge never
Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say,
with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how
are youl when will you come to see me?"
No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no
children asked him what it was o'clock, no man
or woman ever once in all his life inquired the
w'ay to such and such a place, of Scrooge.
Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know
him ; and when they saw him coming on, would
tug their owners into doorways and up courts ;
and then would wag their tails as though they
said, " no eye at all is better than an evil eye,
dark master !"
But what did Scrooge care 1 It was the very
thing he liked. To edge his way along the
crowded paths of life, warning all human sym-
pathy to keep its distance, was what the know-
ing ones call " nuts" to Scrooge.
Once upon a time — of all the good days in the
year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy
in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, bi-
ting weather : foggy withal : and he could hear
the people in the court outside go wheezing up
and down, beating their hands upon their
breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pave-
ment-stones to warm them. The city clocks
had only just gone three, but it was quite dark
already : it had not been light all day : and can-
dles were flaring in the windows of the neigh-
bouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the pal-
pable brown air. The fog came pouring in at
every chink and keyhole, and was so dense
without, that although the court was of the nar-
rowest, the houses opposite were mere phan-
toms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping
down, obscuring everything, one might have
thought that Nature lived hard by, and was
brewing on a large scale.
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was
open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk,
who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank,
was copying letters. Scrooge had a vp^. small
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much small-
er that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't
replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-hox in his
own room ; and so surely as the clerk came in
with the shovel, the master predicted that it
would be necessary for them to part. Where-
fore the clerk put on his white comforter, and
tried to warm himself at the candle ; in which
effort, not being a man of a strong imagination,
" A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save
you !" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice
of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so
quickly that this was the first intimation he had
of his approach.
" Bah !" said Scrooge, "Humbug !"
He had so heated himself with rapid walking
in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's,
that he was all in a glow ; his face was ruddy
and handsome ; his eyes sparkled, and his
breath smoked again.
" Christmas a humbug, uncle !" said Scrooge's
nephew. " You don't mean that, I am sure."
" I do," said Scrooge. " Merry Christmas !
what right have you to be merry ^ what reason
have you to be merry 1 You're poor enough."
"Come, then," returned the nephew gaily.
" What right have you to be dismal "! what rea-
son have you to be morose 1 You're rich
Scrooge having no better answer on the spur
of the moment, said, " Bah !" again ; and fol-
lowed it up with "Humbug."
" Don't be cross, uncle," said the nephew.
" What else can I be," returned the uncle.
" when I live in such a world of fools as this 1
Merry Christmas ! Out upon merry Christ-
mas ! What's Christmas time to you but a
time for paying bills without money ; a time for
finding yourself a year older, and not an hour
richer ; a time for balancing your books and
having every item in 'em through a round dozen
of months presented dead against you 1 If I
could work my will," said Scrooge, indignantly,
" evey idiot who goes about with ' Merry Christ-
mas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own
pudding, and buried with a stake of holly
through his heart. He should !"
" Uncle !" pleaded the nephew.
"Nephew!" returned the uncle, sternly,
" keep Christmas in your own way, and let me
keep it in mine."
" Keep it !" repeated Scrooge's nephew.
" But you don't keep it."
" Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge.
" Much good may it do you ! Much good it has
ever done you !"
" There are many things from which I might
have derived good, by which I have not profit-
ed, 1 dare say," returned the nephew : " Christ-
mas among the rest. But I am sure I have al-
ways thought of Christmas time, when it has
come round— apart from the veneration due to
its sacred name and origin, if anything belong-
ing to it can be apart from that— as a good time :
a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time ; the
only time I know of, in the long calendar of the
year, when men and women seem by one con-
sent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to
think of people below them as if they really
were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not
anoth« race of creatures bound on other jour-
neys. And therefore, uncle, though it has nev-
er put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I
believe that it has done me good, and will do me
good ; and I say, God bless it !"
The clerk in the tank involuntarily applaud-
ed : becoming immediately sensible of the im-
propriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished
the last frail spark for ever.
" Let me hear another sound from you" said
Scrooge, " and you'll keep your Christmas by
losing your situation. You're quite a powerful
speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew.
" I wonder you don't go into Parliament."
" Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with
Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, in-
deed he did. He went the whole length of the
expression, and said that he would see him in
that extremity first.
"But why!" cried the nephew. "WhyV
" Why did you get married 1" said Scrooge.
" Because I fell in love."
" Because you fell in love !" growled Scrooge,
as if that were the only one thing in the world
more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. " Good
" Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me
before that happened. Why give it as a reason
for not coming now 1
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge.
" I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of
you ; why cannot we be friends?'
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge.
" I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you
so resolute. We have never had any quarrel,
to which I have been a party. But I have made
the trial in hsmage to Christmas, and I'll keep
my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry
Christmas, uncle I"
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge.
" And A Happy New Year !"
" Good afternoon !" said Scrooge.
His nephew left the room without an angry
word, notwithstanding. He stopped at the out-
er door to bestow the greetings of the season on
the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer
than Scrooge ; for he returned them cordially.
" There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge,
who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen
shillings a-week, and a wife and family, talking
about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bed-
This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew
out, had let two other people in. They were
portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now
stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office.
They had books and papers in their hands, and
bowed to him.
" Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one
of the gentlemen, referring to his list. " Have
I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or
Mr. Marley !"
" Mr. Marley has been dead these seven
years," Scrooge replied. " He died seven years
ago, this very night."
" We have no doubt his liberality is well
represented by his surviving partner," said the
gentleman, presenting his credentials.
It certainly was ; for they had been two kin-
dred spirits. At the ominous word " liberality,"
Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and hand-
ed the credentials back.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" At this festive season of the year, Mr.
Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen,
" it is more than usually desirable that we
should make some slight provision for the poor
>and destitute, who sutfer greatly at the present
'time Many thousands are in want of common
necessaries ; hundreds of thousands are in want
-of common comforts, sir."
Are there no prisons V asked Scrooge.
" Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, lay-
ing down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses!" demanded
Scrooge. " Are they still in operation V
" They are. Still," returned the gentleman,
-" I wish I could say they were not."
" The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full
•vigour, then !" said Scrooge.
" Both very busy, sir."
" Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at
first, that something had occurred to stop them
in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm
-very glad to hear it."
" Under the impression that they scarcely fur-
nish Christian cheer of mind or body to the
multitude," returned the gentleman, " a few of
us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the
Poor some meat and drink, and means of
warmth. We choose this time, because it is a
time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt,
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.
" You wish to be anonymous !"
"I wish to he left alone," said Scrooge.
" Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen,
that is ray answer. I don't make merry myself
at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle
people merry. I help to support the establish-
ments I have ipentioned ; they cost enough ;
rand those who are badly off must go there."
" Many can't go there ; and many would ra-
" If they would rather die," said Scrooge,
" they had better do it, and decrease the surplus
population. Besides— excuse me— I don't know
that." , ,
" But you might know it," observed the gen-
"It's not my business," Scrooge returned.
" It's enough for a man to understand his own
business, and not to interfere with other peo-
- pie's. Mine occupies me constantly. Good af-
ternoon, gentlemen !"
Seeing clearly that it would be useless to
persue their point, the gentlemen withdrew.
Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved
opinion of himself, and in a more facetious tem-
per than was usual with him.
Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so,
that people ran about with flaring links, proffer-
ing their services to go before horses in car-
liages, and conduct them on their way. The
ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell
was always peeping slily down at Scrooge out
of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisi-
ble, and struck the hours and quarters in the
clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards, as
if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head
up there. The cold became intense. In the
main street, at the corner of the court, some la
bourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had
lighted a great fire in a brazier, round which a
party of ragged men and boys were gathered :
warming their hands and winking their eyes
before the blaze in rapture. The water-plug
being left in solitude, its overflowings sullenly
congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice. The
brightness ot the shops, where holly sprigs and
berries crackled in the lamp-heat of the win-
dows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed.
Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splen-
did joke : a glorious pageant, with which it was
next to impossible to believe that such dull
principles as bargain and sale had anything to
do. The Lord Mayor, in the stronghold of the
mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his fifty
cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord
Mayor's household should ; and even the little
tailor, whom he had fined five shillings on the
previous Monday for being drunk and blood-
thirsty in the streets, stirred up to-morrow's
pudding in his garret, while his lean wife and
the baby sallied out to buy the beef.
Foggier yet, and colder ! Piercing, searching,
biting cold. If the good Saint Dunstan had but
nipped the Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of
such weather as that, instead of using his fa-
miliar weapons, then indeed he would have
roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one
scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the
hungry cold as bones are gnawed by dogs,
stooped down at Scrooge's keyhole to regale
him with a Christmas carol : but at the first
sound of —
" God bless you, merry gentleman !
May notliing you dismay !"
Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of
action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the
keyhole to the fog and even morecongenial frost.
At length the hour of shutting up the count-
ing-house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge
dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted
the fact to the expectant clerk in the Tank, who
instantly snuffed his candle out, and put on his
" You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose V
" If quite convenient, sir."
" It's not convenient," said Scrooge, " and
it's not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for
it, you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll be bound V
The clerk smiled faintly.
" And yet," said Scrooge, " you don't think
me ill-used, when I pay a day's wages for no
The clerk observed that it was only once a
" A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket
every twenty-fifth of December !" said Scrooge,
buttoning his great-coat to the chin. " But I
suppose you must have the whole day. Be
here all the earlier next morning !"
The clerk promised that he would ; and
Scrooge walked out with a growl. The office
was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with
the long ends of his white comforter dangling
below his waist (for he boasted no great-coat),
went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a
lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its be-
ing Christmas-eve, and then ran home to Cam-
den Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at
Scrooge took his melancholy dinner m his
usual melancholy tavern ; and having read all
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
the newspapers, and beguiled the rest of the
evening with his banker's-book, went home to
bed. He lived in chambers which had once be-
longed to his deceased partner. They were a
gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of
building up a yard, where it had so little busi-
ness to"be, that one could scarcely help fancy-
ing it must have run there when it was a young
house, playing at hide-and-seek with other
houses, and have forgotten the way out again.
It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for
nobody lived in it but Scrooge, the other rooms
being all let out as offices. The yard was so
dark that even Scrooge, who knew its every
stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The
fog and frost so hung about the black old gate-
way of the house, that it seemed as if the
Genius of the Weather sat in mournful medita-
tion on the threshold.
Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing, at all
particular about the knocker on the door, ex-
cept that it was very large. It is also a fact,
that Scrooge had seen it night and morning
during his whole residence in that place ; also
that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy
about him as any man in the City of London,
even including — which is a bold word — the cor-
poration, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be
borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed
one thought on Marley, since his last mention
of his seven-years' dead partner that afternoon.
And then let any man explain to me, if he can,
how it happened that S'crooge, having his key
in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker,
without its undergoing any intermediate pro-
cess of change : not a knocker, but Marley's
Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable
shadow as the other objects in the yard were,
but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lob-
.ster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or fero-
cions, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to
look : with ghostly spectacles turned up upon
its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously
stirred, as if by breath or hot-air ; and though
the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made
it horrible ; but its horror seemed to be, in
spite of the face and beyond its control, rather
than a part of its own expression.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenome-
non, it was a knocker again.
To say that he was not startled, or that his
blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation
to which it had been a stranger from infancy,
would be untrue. But he put his hand upon
the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily,
walked in, and lighted his candle.
He did pause, with a moment's irresolution,
before he shut the door ; and he did look cau-
tiously behind at first, as if he half-expected to
be terrified with the sight of Marley's pigtail
sticking out into the hall. But there was no-
thing on the back of the door, except the screws
and nuts that held the knocker on ; so he said,
" Pooh, pooh !" and closed it with a bang.
The sound resounded through the house like
thunder. Every room above, and every cask
in the wine-merchant's cellars below, appeared
to have a separate peal of echoes of its own.
Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by
echoes. He fastened the door, and walked
across the hall, and up the stairs : slowly too .-
trimming his candle as he went.
You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-
and-six up a good old flight of stairs', or through
a bad young Act of Parliament ; but I mean to.
say you might have got a hearse up that stair-
case, and taken it broadwise, with the splinter-
bar towards the wall, and the door towards the
balustrades : and done it easy. There was
plenty of width for that, and room to spare,
which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge
thought he saw a locomotive hearse going on
before him in the gloom. Half a dozen gas-
iamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted
the entry too well, so you may suppose that it
was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip.
Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for
that : darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.
But before he shut his heavy door, he walked
through his rooms to see that all was right. He
had just enough recollection of the face to de--
sire to do that.
Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All
as they should be. Nobody under the table,
nobody under the sofa ; a small fire m the
grate ; spoon and basin ready ; and the little
saucepan (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon
the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in
the closet ; nobody in his dressing-gown, which,
was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against
the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire-
guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing'
stand on three legs, and a poker.
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked
himself in ; double-locked himself in, which was
not his custom. Thus secured against surprise,
he took ofi"his cravat, put on his dressing-gowa
and slippers, and his nightcap, and sat down
before the fire to take his. gruel.
It was a very low fire indeed ; nothing on
such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit
close to it, and brood over it, before he could
extract the least sensation of warmth from
such a handful of fuel. The fire-place was an
old one, built by some Dutch merchant long
ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch
tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures.
There were Cains and Abels ; Pharaoh's
daughters. Queens of Sheba, Angelic messen-
gers descending through the air on clouds like
feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles
putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of
figures, to attract his thoughts ; and yet that
face of Marley, seven years dead, came like the
ancient Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the
whole. If each smooth tile had been a blank
at first, with power to shape some picture on
its surface from the disjointed fragments of his
thoughts, there would have been a copy of old
Marley's head on every one.
" Humbug!" said Scrooge, and walked across
After several turns, he sat down again. As
he threw his head back in the chair, his glance
happened to rest upon a bell, a disused bell, that
hung in the room, and communicated for some
purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the
highest story of the building. It was Vfith
great astonishment, and with a strange, inex-
plicable dread, that as he looked he saw this
bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the
outset that it scarcely made a sound ; but sooit ,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
it rang out loudly, anJ so did every bell in the
This might have lasted half a minute, or a
minute, but it seemed an hour. The bells )
ceased as thev had begun, together. They i
were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down (
below, as if some person were dragging a i
heavy chain over the caslis in the wine-mer-
chant's cellar. Scrooge then remembered to ■
have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were
described as dragging chains.
The cellar-door Hew open with a booming i
sound, and then he heard the noise much loud-
er, on the floors below ; then coming up the
stairs ; then coming straight towards his door.
" It's humbug still !" said Scrooge. " I won't
His colour changed though, when, without a
pause, it came on through the heavy door, and
passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its
coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though
it cried "I know him! Marley's Ghost !" and
The same face ; the very same. Marley in
his pig-tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots ;
the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail,
and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head.
The chain he drew was clasped about his mid-
dle. It was long, and wound about him like a
tail ; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it
closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers,
deeds^ and heavy purses wrought in steel. His
body was transparent : so that Scrooge, observ-
ing him, and looking through his waistcoat,
could see the two buttons on his coat behind.
Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley
had no bowels, but he had never believed it un-
No, nor did he believe it even now. Though
he looked the phantom through and through,
and saw it standing before him ; though he felt
the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes ;
and marked the very texture of the folded ker-
chief bound about its head and chin, which
wrapper he had not observed before : he was
still incredulous and fought against his senses.
" How now !" said Scrooge, caustic and cold
as ever. " What do you want with me 1"
"Much '."—Marley's voice, no doubt about it.
" Who are you 1"
" Ask me who I was."
" Who were you then V said Scrooge, raising
his voice. " You're particular— for a shade."
He was going to say " to a. shade," but substi-
tuted this, as more appropriate.
" In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley."
" Can you — can you sit down V inquired
Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him.
" I can."
" Do it then."
Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't
know whether a ghost so transparent might find
himself in a condition to take a chair ; and felt
that in the event of its being impossible, it might
involve the necessity of an embarrassing ex-
planation. But the ghost sat down on the oppo-
site side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used
"You don't believe in me," said the Ghost.
" I don't," said Scrooge.
" What evidence would you have of my re-
ality, beyond that of your senses?"
"I don't know," said Scrooge.
" Why do you doubt your senses 1"
" Because," said Scrooge, " a little thing af-
fects them. A slight disorder of the stomach
makes them cheats. You may be an undigest-
ed bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of
cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato.
There's more of gravy than of grave about you,
whatever you are !"
Scrooge was not much in the habit of crack-
ing jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any
means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried
to be smart, as a means of distracting his own
attention, and keeping down his terror ; for the
spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his
To sit, staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in
silence for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt,
the very dense with him. There was something
very awful, too, in the spectre's being provided
with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge
could not feel it himself, but this was clearly
the case ; for though the Ghost sat perfectly mo-
tionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels, were
still agitated as by the hot vapour from an oven.
"You see this toothpick"!" said Scrooge, re-
turning quiclily to the charge, for the reason just
assigned ; and wishing, though it were only for
a second, to divert the vision's stony gaze from
" I do," replied the Ghost.
" You are not looking at it," said Scrooge.
"But I see it," said the Ghost, "notwith-
" Weill" returned Scrooge. " I have but to
swallow this, and be for the rest of my days
persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own
creation. Humbug, I tell you— humbug !"
At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and
shook its chain with such a dismal and appall-
ing noise, that Scrooge held on tight to his
chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon.
But how much greater was his horror, when
the phantom taking off the bandage round its
head, as if it were too warm to wear in doors,,
its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast !
Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his
hands before his face.
"Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition,
why do you trouble me V
"Man of the worldly mind!" replied the
Ghost, " do you believe in me or notl"
" I do," said Scrooge. " I must. But why
do 'spirits walk the earth, and why do they
come to me 1"
" It is required of every man," the Ghost re-
turned, " that the spirit within him should walk
abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far
and wide ; and if that spirit goes not forth in
life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is
doomed to wander through the world — oh, wo
is me ! and witness what it cannot share, but
might have shared on earth, and turned to hap-
Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its
chain, and wrung its shadowy hands.
" You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling.
" Tell me why V
" I w-ear the chain I forged in life," replied
the Ghost. " I made it link by link, and yard
. by yard ; I girded it on of my own free will, and
of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern,
strange to you ?"
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Scrooge trembled more and more.
" Or would you know," pursued the Ghost,
"the weight and length of the strong coil you
bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as
-long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You
have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous
Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in
the expectation of finding himself surrounded
■by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable :
;but he could see nothing.
" Jacob," he said, imploringly. " Old Jacob
Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me,
" I have none to give," the Ghost replied. " It
■comes from other regions, Ehenezer Scrooge,
-and is conveyed by other ministers, to other
kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would.
A very little more is all permitted to me. I
cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger any
where. My spirit never walked beyond our
counting-house — mark me! in life my spirit
never roved beyond the narrow limits of our
money-changing hole ; and weary journeys lie
before me !"
It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever be
became thoughtful, to put his hands in his
breeches pockets. Pondering on what the
Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lift-
ing up bis eyes, or getting off his knees.
" You must have been very slow about it,
Jacob," Scrooge observed, in a business-like
.manner, though with liumility and deference.
" Slow I" the Ghost repeated.
"Seven years dead," mused Scrooge. "And
travelling all the time V
"The whole time," said* the Ghost. "No
rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse."
"You travel fasti" said Scrooge.
" On the wings of the wind," replied the
" You might have got over a great quantity
of ground in seven years," said Scrooge.
The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another
■cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the
dead silence of the night, that the Ward would
have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.
" Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed,"
ciied the phantom, " not to know, that ages of
incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this
-earth must pass into eternity before the good
of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not
to know that any Christian spirit working kind-
,;jy in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will
find its mortal life too short for its vast means
•of usefulness. Not to know that no space of
JCgret can make amends for one life's opportu-
nities misused ! Yet such was 11 Oh ! such
was I !"
" But you were always a good man of busi-
ness, Jacob," faultered Scrooge, who now began
to apply this to himself
" Business !" cried the Ghost, wringing its
hands again. "Mankind was my business.
The common welfare was my business ; chari-
ty, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were
all my business. The dealings of my trade
were but a drop of water in the comprehensive
ocean of my business !"
It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that
were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and
..flung it heavily upon the ground again.
"At this time of the rolling year," the spec-
tre said, " I suffer most. Why did I walk
through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes
turned down, and never raise them to that
blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor
abode 1 Were there no poor homes to which
its light would have conducted me !"
Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear
the spectre going on at this rate, and began to
" Hear me !" cried the Ghost. " My time is
" I will," said Scrooge. " But don't be hard
upon me ! Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray !"
" How it is that I appear before you in a
shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have
sat invisible beside you many and many a day."
It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shiv-
ered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
" That is no light part of my penance," pur-
sued the Ghost. " I am here to-night to warn
you, that you have yet a chance and hope of
escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my
" You were always a good friend to me,"
said Scrooge. " Thank'ee !"
" You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost,
"by Three Spirits."
Scrooge's countenance fell almost as 1o\t as
the Ghost's had done.
" Is that the chance and hope you mention-
ed, Jacob 1" he demanded, in a faultering voice.
" I — I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge.
"Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you
cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect
the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls one."
" Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it
over, Jacob 1" hinted Scrooge.
" Expect the second on the next night at the
same hour. The third upon the next night,
when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to
vibrate. Look to see me no more ; and look
that, for your own sake, you remember what
has passed between us !"
When it had said these words, the spectre
took its wrapper from the table, and bound it
round its head, as before. Scrooge knew this,
by the smart sound its teeth made, when the
jaws were brought together by the bandage.
He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found
his supernatural visitor confronting him in an
erect attitude, with its chain wound over and
about its arm.
The apparition walked backward from him ;
and at every step it took, the window raised it-
self a little, so that when the spectre reached it,
it was wide open. It beckoned Scrooge to ap-
proach, which he did. When they were within
two paces of each other, Marley's Ghost held
up its hand, warning him to come no nearer.
Not so much in obedience as in surprise and
fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became
sensible of confused noises in the air ; incohe-
rent sounds of lamentation and regret ; wail-
ings inexpressibly sorrowful and self- accusato-
ry. The spectre, after listening for a moment,
joined in the mournful dirge ; and floated out
upon the bleak, dark night.
Scrooge followed to the window : desperate
in his curiosity. He looked out.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering
hitherand thither in restless haste, and moaning
as they went. Every one of them wore chains
like Marley's Ghost ;. some few (they might be
guilty governments) were linked together ; none
■were free. Many had been personally known
to Scrooge in their lives. He had teen quite
familiar with one old ghost in a white waist-
coat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its
ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to
assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom
it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery
-with them all was, clearly, that they sought to
interfere, for good, in human matters, and had
■lost the power for ever.
Whether these creatures faded into mist, or
mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. I3ut
they and their spirit voices faded together ; and
the night became as it had been when he walk-
Scrooge closed the window, and examined
the door by which the Ghost had entered. It
•was double-locked, as he had locked it with his
own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed.
He tried to say " Humbug !" but stopped at the-
first syllable. And being, from the ehiotion he
had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or
his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull
conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of
the hour, much in need of repose, went straight
to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon
THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS.
When Scrooge awoke, it was so dark, that
looking out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish
the transparent window from the opaque walls
of his chamber. He was endeavouring to
pierce the darkness with his ferret eyes, when
the chimes of a neighbouring church struck the
four quarters. So he listened for the hour.
To his great astonishment the heavy bell
■went on from six to seven, and from seven to
eight, and regularly up to twelve ; then stopped.
Twelve ! It was past two when he went to
bed. The clock was wrong. An icicle must
have got into the works. Twelve !
He touched the spring of his repeater, to cor-
rect this most preposterous clock. Its rapid
little pulse beat twelve ; and stopped.
" Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge, " that
I can have slept through a whole day and far
into another night. It isn't possible that any-
thing has happened to the sun, and this is twelve
at noon !"
The idea being an alarming one, he scram-
bled out of bed, and groped his way to the win-
dow. He was obliged to rub the frost off with
the sleeve of bis dressing-gown before he could
see anything ; and could see very little then.
All he could make out was, that it was still very
foggy and extremely cold, and that there was
no noise of people running to and fro, and ma-
king a great stir, as there unquestionably would
have been if night had beaten off bright day,
and taken possession of the world. This was
■a great relief, because " three days after sight
-of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. Ebenezer
Scrooge or his order," and so forth, would have
become a mere United States' security if there
were no days to count by.
Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and
thought, and thought it over and over and over,
and could make nothing of it. The more he
thought, the more perplexed he was ; and the
more he endeavoured not to think, the more he
thought. Marley's Ghost bothered him exceed-
ingly. Every time he resolved within himself,
alter mature inquiry, that it was all a dream,
his mind flew back again, like a strong spring re-
leased, to its first position, and presented the
same problem to be worked all through, " Was
it a dream or not V
Scrooge lay in this state until the chimes had
gone three quarters more, when he remembered,
on a sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of
a visitation when the bell tolled one. He re-
solved to lie awake until the hour was past ;
and, considering that he could no more go to
sleep than go to Heaven, this was perhaps the
wisest resolution in his power.
The quarter was so long, that he was more
than once convinced he must have sunk into a
doze unconsciously, and missed the clock. At
length it broke upon his listening ear.
" Ding, dong !"
"A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting.
" Ding, dong !"
" Half past !" said Scrooge.
" Ding, dong !"
" A quarter to it," said Scrooge.
" Ding, doBg !"
" The hour itself," said Scrooge, triumphant-
ly, " and nothing else !"
He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which
it now did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy
One. Light flashed up in the room upon the
instant, and the curtains of his bed were drawn.
The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I
tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his
feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to
which his face was addressed. The curtains
of his bed were drawn aside ; and Scrooge,
starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found
himself face to face with the unearthly visiter
who drew them : as close to it as I am now to
you, and I am standing in the spirit at your el-
It was a strange figure — like a child : yet not
so like a child as like an old man, viewed through
some supernatural medium, which gave him the
appearance of having receded from the view,
and being diminished to a child's proportions.
Its hair, which hung about its neck and down
its back, was white as if with age ; and yet the
face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest
bloom was on the skin. The arms were very
long and muscular ; the hands the same, as if
its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs
and feet, most delicately formed, were, like
those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic
of the purest white ; and round its waist was
bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was
beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly
in its hand ; and, in singular contradiction of
that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with
summer flowers. But the strangest thing about
it was, that from the crown of its head there
sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all
this was visible ; and which was doubtless the
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a
great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held
under its arm.
Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it
with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest
quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered
now in one part and now in another, and what
was light one instant, at another time was dark,
so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness :
being now a thing with one arm, now with one
leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs
without a head, now a head without a body : of
which dissolving parts, no outline would be vis-
ible in the dense gloom wherein they melted
away. And in the very wonder of this, it would
be itself again ; distinct and clear as ever.
" Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was
foretold to me V asked Scrooge.
" I am !"
The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly
low, as if instead of being so close beside him,
it were at a distance.
"Who, and what are youl" Scrooge de-
" I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."
" Long past V inquired Scrooge : observant
of its dwarfish stature.
" No. Your past."
Perhaps, Scrooge could not have told anybody
why, if anybody could have asked him ; but he
had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap ;
and begged him to be covered.
" What !" exclaimed the Ghost, " would you
so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I
give? Is it not enough that you are one of
those whose passions made this cap, and force
me through whole trains of years to wear it low
upon my brow !"
Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to
otTend, or any knowledge of having wilfully
" bonneted" the Spirit at any period of his life.
He then made bold to inquire what business
brought him there.
" Your welfare !" said the Ghost.
Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but
could not help thinking that a night of unbroken
rest would have been more conducive to that
end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking,
for it said immediately :
" Your reclamation, then. Take heed !"
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and
clasped him gently by the arm.
" Rise ! and walk with me !"
It would have been in vain for Scrooge to
plead that the weather and the hour were not
adapted to pedestrian purposes ; that bed was
warm, and the thermometer a long way below
freezing ; that he was clad but lightly in his
slippers, dressing-gown, and nightcap ; and that
he had a cold upon him at that time. The
grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was
not to be resisted. He rose : but finding that
the Spirit made towards the window, clasped its
robe in supplication. ,
" I am a mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, " and 1
liable to fall." I
" Bear but a toucli of my hand there," said i
the Spirit, laying it upon his heart, " and you ,
shall be upheld in more than this !" j
As the words were spoken, they passed ;
through the wall, and stood upon an open coun- (
try road, with fields on either hand. The city
I had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was
I to be seen. The darkness and the mist had
vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, winter
; day, with snow upon the ground.
" Good Heaven !" said Scrooge, clasping his
I hands together, as he looked about him. " I
, was bred in this place. I was a boy here !"
The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle
touch, though it had been light and instanta-
! neous, appeared still present to the old man's
sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thou-
' sand odours floating in the air, each one con-
nected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes,
and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten !
"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost,
" And what is that upon your cheek
Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching
in his voice, that it was a pimple ; and begged
the Ghost to lead him where he would.
" You recollect the way !" inquired the Spirit.
" Remember it !" cried Scrooge with fervour
— "I could walk it blindfold."
" Stralge to have forgotten it for so many
years !" observed the Ghost. " Let us go on !"
They walked along the road ; Scrooge recog-
nising every gate, and post, and tree ; untd a
little market-town appeared in the distance,
with its bridge, its church, and winding river.
Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting
towards them with boys upon their backs, who
called to other boys in country gigs and carts,
driven by farmers. All these boys were in
great spirits, and shouted to each other, until
the broad fields were so full of merry music,
that the crisp air laughed to hear it.
" These are but shadows of the things that
have been," said the Ghost. " They have no
consciousness of us."
The jocund travellers came on ; and as they
came, Scrooge knew and named thei« every
one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds
to see them ! Why did his cold eye glisten, and
his heart leap up as they went past ! Why was
he filled with gladness when he heard them
give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted
at cross-roads and bye ways, for their several
homes ! What was merry Christmas to Scrooge T
Out upon merry Christmas ! What good had it
ever done to him %
" The school is not quite deserted," said the
Ghost. " A solitary child, neglected by his
friends, is left there still."
Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
They left the high-road, by a well remem-
bered lane, and soon approached a mansion of
dull red brick, with a little weathercock-sur-
mounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging
in it. It was a large house, but one of broken
fortunes; for the spacious offices were little
used, their walls were damp and mossy, their
windows broken, and their gates decayed.
Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables ; and
the coach-houses and sheds were overrun with
grass. Nor was it more retentive of its an-
cient state, within ; for entering the dreary
hall, and glancing through the open doors of
many rooms, they found them poorly furnished,,
cold, and vast. There was an earthly savour
in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which-
associated itself somehow with t 'o much get-
ting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat.
■They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It
opened hefore them, and disclosed a long, bare,
melancholy room, made barer still by lines of
plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a
lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ; and
Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to
see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.
Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak
and scuffle from the mice behind the panneling,
not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in
the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the
leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not
the idle swinging of an empty store-house door,
no, not a clicking in the fire, bjt fell upon the
heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and
gave a freer passage to his tears.
The Spirit-; touched him on the arm, and
pointed to his younger self, intent upon his
reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments :
wonderfully real and distinct to look at : stood
outside the window, with an axe stuck in his
belt, and leading an ass laden with wood by the
" Why, it's Ali Baba !" Scrooge exclaimed
in ecstacy. " It's dear old honest Ali Baba !
Yes, yes, I know ! One Christmas time, when
yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he
did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor
boy ! And Valentine," said Scrooge, " and his
•wild brother, Orson ; there they go ! And
what's his name, who was put down in his
drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus ;
don't you see him ! And the Sultan's Groom
turned upside-down by the Genii ; there he is
upon his head ! Serve him right. I'm glad of
it. What business had he to be married to the
To hear Scrooge expending all the earnest-
■ness of his nature on such subjects, in a most
extraordinary voice between laughing and cry-
ing ; and to see his heightened and excited face ;
would have been a surprise to his business
friends in the city, indeed.
•'There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge.
" Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like
a lettuce growing out of the top of his head ;
there he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called
him, when he came home again after sailing
round the island. ' Poor Robin Crusoe, where
have you been, Robin Crusoe "! The man
thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It
-was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday,
running for his life to the little creek ! Halloa !
Hoop ! Halloa !"
Then, with a rapidity of transition very for-
eign to his usual character, he said, in pity for
his former self, " Poor boy !" and cried again.
" I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand
in his pocket, and looking about him, after dry-
ing his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late
"What is the matter 1" asked the Spirit.
" Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There
was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door
last night. I should like to have given him
something ; that's all."
The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its
hand ; saying as it did so, " Let us see anollier
Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words,
-and the room became a little darker and more
dirty. The pannels shrunk, the windows crack-
ed ; fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling,
and the naked laths were shown instead ; but
how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew
no more than you do. He only knew that it
was quite correct ; that everything had hap-
pened so ; that there he was, alone again, when
all the other boys had gone home again for the
He was not reading now, but walking up
and down despairingly. Scrooge looked at the
Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head,
glanced anxiously towards the door.
It opened ; and a little girl, much younger
than the boy, came darting in, and putting her
arms about his neck, and often kissing him, ad-
dressed him as her " Dear, dear brother."
" I have come to bring you home, dear broth-
er I" said the child, clapping her tiny hands, and
bending down to laugh. " To bring you home,
home, home !"
"Home, little Fan'!" returned the boy.
" Yes !" said the child, brimful of glee.
" Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and
ever. Father is so much kinder than he used
to be, that home's like Heaven ! He spoke so
gently to me one dear night when I was going
to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once
more if you might come home ; and he said
Yes, you should ; and sent me in a coach to
bring you. And you're to be a man !" said the
child, opening her eyes, " and are never to come
back here ; but first, we're to be together all
the Christmas long, and have the merriest time
in all the world."
"You are quite a woman, little Fan!" ex-
claimed the boy.
She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried
to touch his head ; but being too little, laughed
again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then
she began to drag him, in her childish eager-
ness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth
to go, accompanied her.
A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bringdown
Master Scrooge's box, there !" and in the hall
appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared
on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescen-
sion, and threw him into a dreadful state of
mind by shaking hands with him. He then
conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old
well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was
seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows,
were waxy with cold. Here he produced a de-
canter of curiously light wine, and a block of
curiously heavy cake, and administered instal-
ments of those dainties to the young people : at
the same time, sending out a meagre servant to
offer a glass of " something" to the postboy, who
answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if
it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he
had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being
by this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the
children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right
willingly ; and getting into it, drove gaily down
the garden-sweep, the quick wheels dashing the
hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of
the evergreens like spray.
" Always a delicate creature, whom a breath
might have withered," said the Ghost, " But
she had a large heart !"
" So she had," cried Scrooge. " You're right.
I'll not gainsay it. Spirit. God forbid !"
" She died a woman," said the Ghost, " and
had, as I think, children."
"One child," Scrooge returned.
" True," said the Ghost. " Your nephew !"
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind, and an-
swered briefly, "Yes."
Although they had but that moment left the
school behind them, they were now in the busy
thoroughfares of the city, where shadowy pas-
sengers passed and repassed ; where shadowy
earts and coaches battled for the way, and all
the strife and tumult of a real city were. It
was made plain enough, by the dressing of the
shops, that here too it was Christmas time
again ; but it was evening, and the streets were
The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse
door, and asked Scrooge if he knew it.
" Know it !" said Scrooge. " Was I appren-
They went in. At sight of an old gentleman
in a Welch wig, sitting behind such a high desk,
that if he had been two inches taller he must
have knocked his head against the ceiling,
Scrooge cried in great excitement :
" Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart ;
it's Fezziwig alive again !"
Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked
up at the clock, which pointed to the hour of
seven. He rubbed his hands ; adjusted his
capacious waistcoat ; laughed all over himself,
from his shoes to his organ of benevolence ;
and called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat,
jovial voice :
"Yo ho, there! Ebenezer ! Dick!"
Scrooge's former self, now grown a young
man, came briskly in, accompanied by his fel-
" Dick Wilkins, to be sure !" said Scrooge to
the Ghost. " Bless me, yes. There he is. He
was very much attached to me, was Dick.
Poor Dick ! Dear, dear !"
"Yo ho, my boys!" said Fezziwig. "No
more work to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick.
Christmas, Ebenezer ! Let's have the shutters
up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp clap of
his hands, " before a man can say, Jack Rob-
You would'nt believe how those two fellows
went at it ! They charged into the street with
the shutters — one, two, three — had 'em up in
their places — four, five, six — barred 'em and
pinned 'em — seven, eight, nine — and came back
before you could have got to twelve, panting
"Hilli-hol" cried old Fezziwig, skipping
down from the high desk, with wonderful agil-
ity. " Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots
of room here ! Hilli-ho, Dick ! Chirrup, Ebe-
Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't
have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared
away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was
done in a minute. Every moveable was packed
off, as if it were dismissed from public life for
evermore ; the floor was swept and watered,
the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon
the fiire ; and the warehouse was as snug, and
warm, and dry, and briglit a ball-room, as you
would desire to see upon a winter's night.
In came a fiddler with a music-book, and
went up to the lofty desk, and made an orches-
tra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. Itr
came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile-
In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and
loveable. In came the six young followers
whose hearts they broke. In came all the
young men and women employed in the busi-
ness. In came the housemaid, with her cousin,
the baker. In came the cook, with her broth-
er's particular friend, the milkman. In came-
the boy from over the way, who was suspected
of not having board enough from his master ;
trying to hide himself behind the girl from next
door but one, who was proved to have had her
ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came,
one after another ; some shyly, some boldly,,
some gracefully, some awkwardly, some push-
ing, some pulling; in they all came, anyhow
and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty
couple at once, hands half round and back again
the other way ; down the middle and up again ;
round and round in various stages of affection-
ate grouping ; old top couple always turning up
in the wrong place ; new top couple starting
off again as soon as they got there ; all top
couples at last, and not a bottom one to help
them. When this result was brought about, old
Fezziwig, clapping his hands to stop the dance,
cried out, " well done !" and the fiddler plunged
his hot face into a pot of porter, especially pro-
vided for that purpose. But, scorning rest upon
his reappearance, he instantly began again,
though there were no dancers yet, as if the
other fiddler had been carried home, exhausted,
on a shutter, and he were a bran-new man, re-
solved to beat him out of sight or perish.
There were more dances, and there were for-
feits, and more dances ; and there was cake,-
and there was negus, and there was a great
piece of cold roast, and there was a great piece-
of cold boiled, and there were mince pies, and
plenty of beer. But the great effect of the even-
ing came after the roast and boilod, when the
fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! the sort of man
who knew his business better than you or I
could have told it him) struck up " Sir Roger de
Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out ta
dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too ;
with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them ;
three or four and twenty pair of partners ; people
who were not to be trifled with ; people who
would dance, and had no notion of walking.
But if they had been twice as many, ah ! four
times, old Fezziwig would have been a match
for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to
her, she was worthy to be his partner in every
sense of the term. If that's not high praise,
tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive light
appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They
shone in every part of the dance like moons.
You couldn't have predicted, at any given time,
what would become of 'em next. And when
old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all
through the dance — advance and retire, hold
hands with your partner, bow and courtesy,
corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to
your place — Fezziwig " cut," cut so deftly, that
he appeared to wink with his legs, and came
upon his feet again without a stagger.
When the clock struck eleven, this domestic
ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took
their statigns, one on either side the door, and,
shaking hands with every person individually
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
as he or she went out, wished him or her a
merry Chiistmas. When everybody had re-
tired but the two 'prentices, they did the same
to them ; and thus the cheerful voices died
away, and the lads were left to their beds,
which were under a counter in the back shop.
During the whole of this time, Scrooge, had
acted like a man out of his wits. His heart
and soul were in the scene, and with his former
self. He corroborated everything, remembered
everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent
the strangest agitation. It was not until now,
when the briglit faces of his former self and
Dick were turned from them, that he remember-
ed the Ghost, and became conscious that it was
looking full upon him, while the hght upon its
head burned very clear.
" A small matter," said the Ghost, " to make
these silly folks so fuU of gratitude."
" SmalH" echoed Scrooge.
The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two
apprentices, who were pouring out their hearts
in praise of Fezziwig ; and when he had done
" Why ! Is it not 1 He has spent but a few
pounds of your mortal money : three or four,
perhaps. Is that so much that he deserves this
" It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the
remark, and speaking unconsciously like his
former, not his latter, self. " It isn't that,
Spirit. He has the power to render us happy
or unhappy ; to make our service light or bur-
densome ; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his
power lies in words and looks ; in things so
slight and insignificant that it is impossible to
add and count 'em up : what then ! The hap-
piness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a
He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped.
" What is the matter 1" asked the Ghost.
" Nothing particular," said Scrooge.
" Something, I think 1" the Ghost insisted.
" No," said Scrooge, " No. I should like to
be able to say a word or two to my clerk just
now ! That's aU !"
His former self turned down the lamps as he
gave utterance to the wish ; and Scrooge and
the Ghost again stood side by side in the open
" Mv time grows short," observed the Spirit.
" Quick !"
This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any
one whom he could see, but it produced an im-
mediate efTect. For again Scrooge saw him-
self He was older now ; a man in the prime
of life. His face had not the harsh and rigid
lines of later years ; but it had begun to wear
the signs of care and avarice. There was an
eager, greedy, restless motion in the eye, which
showed the passion that had taken root, and
where the shadow of the growing tree would
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a
fair young girl in a morning-dress : in whose
eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the
light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas
"It matters little," she said, softly. "To
you, very little. Another idol has displaced
me ; and if it can cheer and comfort you in
time to come, as I would have tried to do, I
have no just cause to grieve."
"What Idol has displaced you ]" he rejoined.
" A golden one."
" This is the even-handed dealing of the
world !" he said. " There is nothing on which
it is so hard as poverty ; and there is nothing it
professes to condemn with such severity as the
pursuit of wealth !"
" You fear the world too much," she answer-
ed, gently. " All your other hopes have merged
into the hope of being beyond the chance of its
sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspi-
rations fall off one by one, until the master-
passion. Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?"
" What then V he retorted. " Even if I have
grown so much wiser, what theni I am not
changed towards you."
She shook her head.
" Our contract is an old one. It was made
when we were both poor and content to be so^
until, in good season, we could improve our
worldly fortune by our patient industry. You
are changed. When it was made, you were an-
" I was a boy," he said impatiently.
" Your own feeling tells you that you were
not what you are," she returned. " I am.
That which promised happiness when we were
one in heart, is fraught with misery now that
we are two. How often and how keenly I
have thought of this, I will not say. It is
enough that I have thought of it, and can re-
" Have I ever sought release V
" In words. No. Never."
"In what, thenr'
" In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ;
in another atmosphere of hfe ; another Hope as
its great end. In everything that made my
love of any worth or value in your sight. If
this had never been between us," said the girl,
looking mildly, but with steadiness, upon him ;
" tell me, would you seek me out and try to
win me nowl Ah, no !"
He seemed to yield to the justice of this sup-
position, in spite of himself. But he said, with
a struggle, " You think not."
" I would gladly think otherwise if I could,"
she answered, " Heaven knows ! When I have-
learned a Truth like this, I know how strong
and irresistible it must he. But if you were
free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I
believe that you would choose a dowerless girl
— you who, in your very confidence with her,
weigh everything by Gain : or, choosing her, if
for a moment you were false enough to your
one guiding principle to do so, do I not know
tliat your repentance and regret would surely
follow \ I do ; and I release you. With a full
heart, for the love of him you once were."
He was about to speak ; but with her head
turned from him, she resumed.
" You may — the memory of what is past half
makes me hope you will — have pain in this. A
very, very brief time, and you will dismiss the
recollection of it, gladly, as an unprofitable
dream, from which it happened well that you
awoke. May you be happy in the hfe you have
She left him ; and they parted.
" Spirit !" said Scrooge, " show me no more !
Conduct me home. Why do you delight to
torture me V
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" One shadow more !" exclaimed the Ghost.
" No more !" cried Scoorge. " No more, I
don't wish to see it. Show me no more !"
But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both
his arms, and forced him to observe what hap-
They were in another scene and place : a
room, not very large or handsome, but full of
comfort. Near to the winter fire sat a beauti-
ful young girl, so like the last that Scrooge be-
lieved it was the same, until he saw her, now a
comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter.
The noise in this room was perfectly tumultu-
ous, for there were more children there, than
Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could
count ; and, unlike the celebrated herd in the
poem, they were not forty children conducting
themselves like one, but every child was con-
ducting itself like forty. The consequences
were uproarious beyond belief; but no one
seemed to care ; on the contrary, the mother
and daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it
-very much ; and the latter, soon beginning to
mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young
brigands most ruthlessly. What would I not
have given to be one of theim ! Though I
never could have been so rude, no, no ! I
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have
crushed that braided hair, and torn it down ;
and for the precious little shoe, I wouldn't have
plucked it off, God bless my soul ! to save my
life. As to measuring her waist in sport, as
they did, bold young brood, I couldn't have
done it ; I should have expected my ann to
have grown round it for a punishment, and
never come straight again. And yet I should
have dearly liked, I own, to have touched her
lips ; to have questioned her, that she might
have opened them ; to have looked upon the
lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised
a blush ; to have let loose waves of hair, an
inch of which would be a keepsake beyond
price : in short, I should have liked, I do con-
fess, to have had the lightest licence of a child,
and yet been man enough to know its value.
But now a knocking at the door was heard,
and such a rush immediately ensued that she
■with laugliing face and plundered dress was
borne towards it the centre of a flushed and
boisterous group, just in time to greet the father,
who, came home attended by a man laden with
Christmas toys and presents. Then the shout-
ing and the struggling, and the onslaught that
was made on the defenceless porter ! The
scaling him, with chairs for ladders, to dive
into his pockets, despoil him of brown-p^per
parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug him
round the neck, pommel his back, and kick his
legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of
•wonder and delight with which the develop-
ment of every package was received ! The
terrible announcement that the baby had been
taken in the act of putting a doll's frying-pan
into his mouth, and was more than suspected
of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued
on a wooden platter ! The immense relief of
finding this a false alarm ! The joy, and grati-
tude, and ecstacy ! They are all indescribable
alike. It is enough that by degrees the children
and their emotions got out of the parlour and
by one s'.air at a time, up to the top of the
house ; where they went to bed, and so sub-
And now Scrooge loo'ked on more attentively
than ever, when the master of the house, having
his daughter leaning fondly on him, sat down
with her and her mother at his own fireside ;
and when he thought that such another crea-
ture, quite as graceful and as full of promise,
might have called him father, and been a spring-
time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight
grew very dim indeed.
" Belle," said the husband, turning to his wife
with a smile, " I saw an old friend of yours this
" Who was it V
(t Quess !"
" How can I 'i Tut, don't I know," she added
in the same breath, laughing as he laughed.
" Mr. Scrooge."
" Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office-
window ; and as it was not shut up, and he had
a candle inside, I could scarcely help seeing him.
His partner lies upon the point of death, I hear ;
and there he sat, alone. Quite alone in the
world, I do believe."
"Spirit!" said Scrooge, in a broken voice,
" remove me from this place."
" I told you these were shadows of the things
that have been," said the Ghost. " That they
are what they are, do not blame me !"
" Remove me !" Scrooge exclaimed. " I
cannot bear it !"
He turned upon the Ghost, and, seeing that
it looked upon him with a face in which, in some
strange way, there were fragments of all the
faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.
" Leave me ! Take me back ! Haunt me
no longer !"
In the struggle, if that can be called a strug-
gle in which the Ghost, with no visible resis-
tance on its own part, was undisturbed by any
effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed that
its light was burning high and bright ; and dimly
connecting that with its infiuence over him, he
seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden
action pressed it down upon its head.
The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the ex-
tinguisher covered its whole form ; but though
Scrooge pressed it down with all his force, he
could not hide the light, which streamed from
under it, in an unbroken flood, upon the ground.
He was conscious of being exhausted, and
overcome by an irresistible drowsiness ; and,
farther, of being in his own bedroom. He gave
the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand re-
laxed ; and had barely time to reel to bed, before
he sank into a heavy sleep.
THE SECOND OF THE THKEE SPIRITS.
Awaking in t he middle of a prodigiously tough
snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts
together, Scrooge had no occasion to he told
that the bell was again upon the stroke of One.
He felt that he was restored to consciousness
in the right nick of time, for the especial pur-
pose of holding a conference with the second
messenger despatched to him through Jacob
Marley's intervention. But, finding that he
turned uncomfoitably cold when he began to
wonder which of his curtains this new spectre
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
would draw back, he put them every one aside
with his own hands ; and, lying down again,
established a sharp look-out all round tlie bed.
Tor he wished to challenge the Spirit on the
moment of its appearance, and did not wish to
be talcen by surprise and made nervous.
' Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who
plume themselves on being acquainted with a
move or two, and being usually equal to the
time-of-day, express the wide range of their
capacity for adventure by observing that they
are good for anything from piteh-and-toss to
manslaughter; between which opposite ex-
tremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide
and comprehensive range of subjects. With-
out venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as
this, I don't mind caHing on you to believe that
he was ready for a good broad field of strange
appearances, and that nothing between a baby
and a rhinoceros would have astonished him
Now, being prepared for almost anything, he
was not by any means prepared for nothing ;
and, consequently, when the Bell struck One,
and no shape appeared, he was taken with a
violent fit of trembling. Five minutes, ten
minutes, a quarter of an hour went by, yet no-
thing came. All this time, he lay upon his bed,
the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy
light, which streamed upon it when the clock
proclaimed the hour ; and which being only
light, was more alarming than a dozen ghosts,
as he vf)^s powerless to make out what it meant,
-or would be at ; and was sometimes apprehen-
sive that he might be at that very moment an
interesting case of spontaneous combustion,
without having the consolation of knowing it.
At last, however, he began to think — as you or
I would have thought at first ; for it is always
the person not in the predicament who knows
what ought to have been done in it, and would
unquestionably have done it too — at last, I say,
he began to think that the source and secret of
this ghostly light might be in the adjoining
room : from whence, on further tracing it, it
seemed to shine. This idea taking full pos-
session of his mind, he got up softly and shuffled
in his slippers to the door.
The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock,
a strange voice called him by his name, and
bade him enter. He obeyed.
It was his own room. There was no doubt
about that. But it had undergone a surprising
transformation. The walls and ceiling were so
hung with living green, that it looked a perfect
^rove, from every part of which, bright gleam-
ing berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly,
mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light, as if
so many little mirrors had been scattered there ;
and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the
chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth
had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's,
or for many and many a winter season gone.
Heaped up upon the floor, to form a kind of
throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry,
brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long
wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-pud-
dings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chesnuts,
cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious
pears, iminense twelfth-cakes, and seething
bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim
with their delicious steam. In easy state upon
this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to
see ; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not
unlike Plenty's horn, and held it up, high up, to
shed its light on Scrooge, as he came peeping
round the door.
" Come in !" exclaimed the Ghost. " Come
in ! and know me better, man !"
Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head
before this Spirit. He was not the dogged
Scrooge he had been ; and though its eyes were
clear and kind, he did not like to meet them.
" I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said
the Spirit. " Look upon me !"
Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed
in one simple deep green robe, or mantle, bor-
dered with white fur. This garment hung so
loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast
was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or con-
cealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable be-
neath the ample folds of the garment, were also
bare ; and on its head it wore no other cover-
ing than a holly wreath set here and there with
shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were
long and free ; free as its genial face, its spark-
ling eye, its open hand, its cherry voice, its un-
constrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Gird-
ed round its middle was an antique scabbard ;
but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath
was eaten up with rust.
" You have never seen the like of me before !"
exclaimed the Spirit.
"Never," Scrooge made answer to it.
" Have never walked forth with the younger
members of my family ; meaning (for I am very
young) my elder brothers born in these later
years 1" pursued the Phantom.
" I don't think I have," said Scrooge. " I am
afraid I have not. Have you had many broth-
"More than eighteen hundred," said the
" A tremendous family to provide for !" mut-
The Ghost of Christmast Present rose.
"Spirit," said Scrooge submissively, "con-
duct me where you will. I went forth last
night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which
is working now. To-night, if you have aught
to teach me, let me profit by it."
" Touch my robe !"
Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast.
Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys,
geese, game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausa-
ges, oysters, pies, puddings, fruit, and punch,
all vanished instantly. So did tlie room, the
fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of night, and they
stood in the city streets on Christmas morning,
where (for the weather was severe) the people
made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant
kind of music, in scraping the snow from the
pavement in front of their dwellings, and from
the tops of their houses : whence it was mad
delight to the boys to see it come plumping
down into the road below, and splitting into ar-
tificial little snow-storms.
The house fronts looked black enough, and
the windows blacker, contrasting with the
smooth white sheet of snow upon the roofs,
and with the dirtier snow upon the ground ;
which last deposit had been ploughed up in deep
furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and wag-
ons ; furrows that crossed and recrossed each
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
other hundreds of times where the great streets
branched off, and made intricate channels, hard
to trace, in tlie thick yellow mud and icy water.
The sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets
were choked up with a dingy mist, half thawed,
half frozen, whose heavier particles descended
in a shower of sooty atoms, as if all the chim-
neys in Great Britain had, by one consent,
caught fire, and were blazing away to their dear
hearts' content. There was nothing very cheer-
fid in the climate or the town, and yet was
there an air of cheerfulness abroad that the
clearest summer air and brightest summer sun
might have endeavoured to diffuse in vain.
For the people who were shovelling away on
the house-tops were jovial and full of glee ; call-
ing out to one another from the parapets, and
now and then exchanging a facetious snowball
better natured missile far than many a wordy
^est— laughing heartily if it went right, and not
less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers'
shops were still half open, and the fruiterers'
were radiant in their glory. There were great,
round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped
like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolhng
at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in
their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy,
brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions,
shining in the fatness of their growth like Span-
ish Friars ; and winking from their shelves in
wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and
glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe.
There were pears and apples, clustered high in
blooming pyramids ; there were bunches of
grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' benevolence,
to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's
mouths might water gratis as they passed ;
there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown,
recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among
the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep
through withered leaves ; there were Norfolk
Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yel-
low of the oranges and lemons, and, in the great
compactness of their juicy persons, urgently en
treating and beseeching to be carried home in
paper bags and eaten after dinner. The very
gold and silver fish, set forth among these choice
fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and
stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that
there was something going on ; and, to a fish,
went gasping round and round their little world
in slow and passionless excitement.
The Grocers' ! oh the Grocers' ! nearly
closed, with perhaps two shutters down, or
one ; but through those gaps such glimpses
It was not alone that the scales descending
on the counter made a merry sound, or that
the twine and roller parted company so briskly,
or that the canisters were rattled up and down
like juggling tricks, or even that the blended
scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the
nose, or even that the raisins were so plentifnl
and rare, the almonds so extremely white, the
sticks of cinnamon so long and straight, the
other spices so delicious, the candied fruits so
caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make
the coldest lookers-on feel faint and subse-
quently bilious. Nor was it that the figs were
moist and pulpy, or that the French plums
blushed in modest tartness from their highly-
decorated boxes, or that everything was good
to eat and in its Christmas dress : but the cus-
tomers were all so hurried and so eager in ther
hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled
up against each other at the door, clashing their
wicker baskets wildly, and left their purchase*
upon the counter, and came running back to
fetch them, and committed hundreds of the liko
mistakes in the best humour possible ; while
the Grocer and his people were so frank and
fresh that the polished hearts with which they
fastened their aprons behind might have been
their own, worn outside for general inspection,
and for Christmas daws to peck at if they chose.
But soon the steeples called good people all,-,
to church and chapel, and away they came,,
flocking through the streets in their best clothes,
and with their gayest faces. And at the same
time there emerged from scores of bye streets,
lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable peo-
ple, carrying their dinners to the bakers' shops..
The sight of these poor revellers appeared to-
interest the Spirit very much, for he stood with
.Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway, and.
taking off the covers as their bearers passed,
sprinkled incense on their dinners from his
torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of
torch, for once or twice when there were angry
words between some dinner-carriers who had
jostled with each other, he shed a few drops of
water on them from it, and their good humour-
was restored directly. For they said, it was a.
shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And
so it was ! God love it, so it was !
In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were
shut up ; and yet there was a genial shadowing
forth of all these dinners and the progress of
their cooking, in the thawed blotch of wet above
each baker's oven ; where the pavement smoked
as if its stones were cooking too.
Is there a peculiar flavour in what you sprin-
kle from your torch V asked Scrooge.
" There is. My own."
"Would it apply to any kind of dinner on
this day 1" asked Scrooge.
" To any kindly given. To a poor one most."
"Why to a poor one most 1" asked Scrooge.
" Because it needs it most."
" Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's
thought, "I wonder you, of all the beings in the
many worlds about us, should desire to cramp
these people's opportunities of innocent enjoy-
"I !" cried the Spirit.
" You would deprive them of their means of
dining on every seventh day, often the only day
on which they can be said to dine at all," said
Scrooge. " Wouldn't you ?"
" I !" cried the Spirit.
" You seek to close these places on llio
Seventh Day !" said Scrooge. "And it comes
to the same thing."
" / seek !" exclaimed the Spirit.
" Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been
done in your name, or, at least, in that of your
family," said Scrooge.
" 'Tliere are some upon this earth of yours,"
returned the Spirit, " who lay claim to know us,
and who do tlieir deeds of passion, pride, ill-
will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in
our name ; who are as strange to us and all our
kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Re-
member that, and charge their doings on them-
selves, not us."
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Scrooge promised that he would ; and they
went on, invisible, as they had been before, into
the suburbs of the town. It was a remarkable
quality of the Ghost (which Scrooge had ob-
served at the baker's) that, notwithstanding his
gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to
any place with ease ; and that he stood beneath
a low roof quite as gracefully and like a super-
natural creature, as it was possible he could
have done in any lofty hall.
And perhaps it was the pleasure the good
Spirit had in showing off this power of his, or
else it was his own kind, generous, hearty na-
ture, and his sympathy with all poor men, that
led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's ; for there
he went, and took Scrooge with him, holding to
his robe ; and on the threshold of the door the
Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's
dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. Think
of that ! Bob had but fifteen " Bob" a week
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen
copies of his Christian name ; and yet the Ghost
of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed
Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife,
dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown,
but brave in ribands, which are cheap and make
a goodly show for sixpence ; and she laid the
cloth, assisted by Belinda Cratchit, second of
her daughters, also brave iu ribands ; while
Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork into the
saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners
of his monstrous shirt-collar (Bob's private pro-
perty, conferred upon his son and heir in honour
of the day) into his mouth, rejoiced to find him-
self so gallantly attired, and yearned to show
his linen in the fashionable Parks. And now
two smaller Cratchits, boy and girl, came tear-
ing in, screaming that outside the baker's they
had smelt the goose, and known it for their
own ; and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage-
and-onions, these young Cratchits danced about
the table, and exalted Master Peter Cratchit to
the skies, while he (not proud, a.h,hough his col-
lars nearly choked him) blew the fire, until the
slow potatoes, bubbling up, knocked proudly at
the saucepan-lid to be let out and peeled.
" What has ever got your precious father,
theni" said Mrs. Cratchit. " And your brother.
Tiny Tim ; and Martha warn't as late last
Christmas Day by half an-hour !"
"Here's Martha, mother!" said a girl, ap-
pearing as she spoke.
" Here's Martha, mother !" cried the two
young Cratchits. " Hurrah ! There's such a
goose, Martha !"
" Why, bless your heart alive, my dear, how
late you are!" said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her
a dozen times, and taking off her shawl and
bonnet for her, with officious zeal.
" We'd a deal of work to finish up last night,"
replied the girl, " and had to clear away this
morning, mother !"
"Well! Never mind so long as you are
come," said Mrs. Cratchit.. "Sit ye down be-
fore the fire, my dear, and have a warm. Lord
bless ye !"
" No, no ! There's father coming," cried the
two young Cratchits, who were everywhere at
once. " Hide Martha, hide !"
So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob,
the father, with at least three feet of cotnforter
exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before
him ; and his thread-bare clothes darned up and
brushed, to look seasonable*; and Tiny Tim
upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore
a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by
an iron frame !"
"Why, Where's our Martha 1" cried Bob
Cratchit looking round.
" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit.
"Not coming !" said Bob, with a sudden de-
clension in his high spirits ; for he had been
Tim's blood horse all the way from church, and
had come home rampant. "Not coming upoa
Christmas Day !"
Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if
it were only in joke ; so she came out prema-
turely from behind the closet door, and ran into
his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled
Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-
house, that he might hear the pudding singing
in the copper.
"And how did Uttle Tim behaved' asked
Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his
credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to
his heart's content.
" As good as gold," said Bob, " and better.
Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself
so much, and thinks the strangest things you
overheard. He told me, coming home, that he
hoped tlie people saw him in the church, be-
cause lie was a cripple, and it might be pleas-
ant to them to remember upon Christmas Day
who made lame beggars walk, and blind men
Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them
this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny
Tim was growing strong and hearty.
His active little crutch was heard upon the
floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another
word was spoken, escorted by his brother and
sister to his stool beside the fire ; and while
Bob, turning up his cuffs, as if, poor fellow, they
were capable of being made more shabby — com-
pounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin
and lemons, and stirred it round and round, and
put it on the hob to simmer ; Master Peter and
the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to
fetch the goose, with which they soon returned
in high procession.
Such a bustle ensued that you might have
thought a goose the rarest of all birds ; a feath-
ered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a
matter of course ; and, in truth, it was some-
thing very like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit,
made the gravy (ready before-hand in a little
saucepan) hissing hot ; Master Peter mashed
the potatoes with incredible vigour ; Miss Be-
linda sweetened up the apple-sauce ; Martha
dusted the hot plates ; Bob took Tiny Tim be-
side him in a tiny corner at the table ; the two
young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not
forgetting themselves, and, mounting guard
upcn their posts, crammed spoons into their
mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before
their turn came to be helped. At last the dish-
es were set on, and grace was said. It was
succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratch-
it, looking slowly all along the carving-knife,
prepared to plunge it in the breast ; but when
she did, and when the long-expected gush of
stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight
arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
excited by the two young Cratcliits, beat on the
table with the handle of his knife, and feebly
cried Hurrah !
There never was such a goose. Bob said
he didn't believe there ever was such a goose
cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and
cheapness, were the themes of universal admi-
ration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and
mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for
the whole family ; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit
said with great delight (surveying one small
atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate
it all at last ! Yet every one had had enough,
and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were
steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows !
But now, the plates being changed by Miss
Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone— too
nervous to bear witnesses— to take the pudding
up, and bring it in.
Suppose it should not be done enough ! Sup-
pose it should break in turning out ! Suppose
somebody should have got over the wall of the
back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry
■with the goose : a supposition at which the two
young Cratchits became livid ! All sorts of
horrors were supposed.
Hallo ! A great deal of steam ! The pudding
was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-
day ! That was the cloth. A smell like an
eating-house, and a pastry cook's next door to
each other, with a laundress's next door to
that 1 That was the pudding. In half a minute
Mrs. Cratchit entered : flushed, but smiling
proudly : with the pudding, like a speckled
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half
of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and be-
dight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.
Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said,
and calmly too, that he regarded it as the
greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit
since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that
now the weight was ofT her mind, she would
confess she had had her doubts about the quan-
tity of flour. Everybody had something to say
about it, but nobody said or thought it was at
all a small pudding for a large family. It would
have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit
would have blushed to hint at such a thing.
At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was
cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up.
The compound in the jug being tasted and con-
sidered perfect, apples and oranges were put
upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on
the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called
a circle, meaning half a one ; and at Bob Cratch-
it's elbow stood the family display of glass ; two
tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.
These held the hot stuff from the jug, how-
ever, as well as golden goblets would have done ;
and Bob served it out with beaming looks,
while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and
crackled noisily. Then Bob proposed :
" A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears.
Go4 bless us !"
Which all the family re-echoed.
" God bless us every one !" said Tiny Tim,
the last of all.
' He sat very close to his father's side, upon
his little stool. Bob held his withered little
kand in his, as if he loved the child, and wished
to keep him by his side, and dreaded that he
might be taken from him.
" Spirit," said Scrooge, with an interest he
had never felt before, "tell me if Tiny Tim will
" I see a vacant seat," replied the Ghost, " in
the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without
an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows
remain unaltered by the Future, the child will
"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh no, kind
Spirit ! say he will be spared."
" If these shadows remain unaltered by the
Future, none other of my race," returned the
Ghost. " will find him here. What then 1 If
he be like to die, he had better do it, and de-
crease the surplus population."
Scrooge hung his licad to hear his own words
quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with
penitence and grief.
"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in
heart, not adamant, fiirbear that wicked cant
until you have discovered What the surplus is,
and Where it is. Will you decide what men
shall live, and wliat men shall die 1 It may be,
that in the sight of Heaven you are more worth-
less and less fit to live than millions like this
poor man's child. Oh God ! to hear the Insect
on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life
among his hungry brothers in the dust !"
Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and
trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. But
he raised them speedily, on hearing his own
" Mr. Scrooge V said Bob ; " I'll give you Mr.
Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast !"
" The Founder of the Feast indeed !" cried
Mrs. Cratchit, reddening. " I wish I had him
here. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast
upon, and I hope he'd have a good appetite for
"My dear," said Bob, "the children ; Christ-
'■■ It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,"
said she, " on which one drinks the health of
such an odious, stingy, hard, unfeeling man as
Mr. Scrooge. You know he is Robert ! Nobody
knows it better than you do, poor fellow 1"
" My dear," was Bob's mild answer, " Christ-
" I'll drink his health for your sake and the
Day's," said Mrs. Cratchit, " not for his. Long
life to him ! A merry Christmas and a happy
new year ! — he'll be very merry and very hap-
py, I have no doubt I"
The children drank the toast after her. It
was the first of their proceedings which had no
heartiness in it. Tiny Tim drank it last of all,
but he didn't care twopence for it. Scrooge
was the Ogre of the family. The mention of
his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which
was not dispelled for full five minutes.
After it had passed away, they were ten
times merrier than before, from the mere relief
of Scrooge the Baleful being done with. Bob
Cratchit told them how he had a situation in his
eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if
obtained, full five-and-sixpence weekly. The
two young Cratchits laughed tremendously at
the idea of Peter's being a man of business ;
and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at llio
fire from between his cohars, as if he were de-
liberating what particular investments he should
favour when he came into the receipt of that
bewildering income. Martha, who was a poor
apprentice at a milliner's, then told them what
kind of work she had to do, and how many
hours she worked at a stretch, and how she
meant to lie abed, to-morrow morning for a good
long rest ; to-morrow being a holiday she passed
at home. Also how she had seen a countess
and a lord some days before, and how the lord
was much about as tall as Peter ;" at which
Peter pulled up his collars so high that you
couldn't have seen his head if you had been
there. All this time the chestnuts and the jug
went round and round ; and bye and bye they
had a song, about a lost child travelling in the
snow, from Tiny Tim ; who had a plaintive lit-
tle voice, and sang it very well indeed.
There was nothing of high mark in this.
They were not a handsome family ; they were
not well dressed ; their shoes were far from be-
ing waterproof ; their clothes were scanty ; and
Peter might have known, and very likely did,
the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they were
liappy, grateful, pleased with one another, and
contented with the time ; and when they faded,
and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings
of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his
eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim,
until the last.
By this time it was getting dark, and snow-
ing pretty heavily ; and Scrooge and the Spirit
went along the streets, the brightness of the
roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all sorts
of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering
of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy
dinner, with hot plates baking through and
through before the fire, and deep red curtains,
ready to be drawn, to shut out cold and dark-
ness. There, all the children of the house were
running out into the snow to meet their married
sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and be
the first to greet them. Here, again, were
shadows on the window-blind of guests assem-
bling ; and there a group of handsome girls, all
hooded and fur-booted, and all chattering at
once, tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's
house ; where, wo upon the single man who
saw thementer— artful witches: well they knew
it — in a glow !
But if you had judged from the numbers of
people on their way to friendly gatherings, you
might have thought that no one was at home to
give (hem friendly welcome when they got there,
instead of every house expecting company, and
piling up its fires half-chimney high. Blessings
on it, how the Ghost exulted ! How it bared its
breadth of breast, and opened its capacious palm,
and floated on, outpouring, with a generous hand,
its bright and harmless mirth on everything
withm its reach ! The very lamplighter, who
ran on before dotting the dusky street with
specks of light, and who was dressed to spend
the evening somewhere, laughed out loudly as
the Spirit passed : though Iiltl« kenned the lamp-
lighter that he had any company but Christmas !
And now, without a word of warning from the
Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor,
where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast
about, as though it were tlie burial-place of gi-
ants ; and water spread itself wheresoever it
listed — or would have done so, but for the frost
that held it prisoner; and nothing grew but
moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass. Down
[AS CAROL. 21
in the west the setting sun had left a streak of
fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for aa
instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower,
lower, lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of
"What place is thisT' asked Scrooge.
" A place where Miners live, who labour in
the bowels of the earth," returned the Spirit.
" But they know me. See !"
A light shone from the window of a hut, and
swiftly they advanced towards it. Passing
through the wall of mud and stone, they found
a cheerful company assembled round a glowing
fire. ."Vn old, old man and woman, with their
children and their children's children, and ano-
ther generation beyond that, all decked out gaily
in their holiday attire. The old man, in a voice
that seldom rose above the hoviding of the wind
upon the ban-en waste, was singing them a
Christmas song ; it had been a very old song
when he was a boy ; and from time to time they
all joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised
their voices, the old man got quite blithe and
loud ; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour
The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge
hold his robe, and passing on above the moor,
sped whither ^ Not to seal To sea. To
Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw the last
of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind
them ; and his ears were deafened by the thun-
dering of water, as it rolled, and roared, and raged
among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and
fiercely tried to undermine the earth.
Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some
league or so from the shore, on which the waters
chafed and dashed, the wild year through, there
stood a solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of sea-
weed clung to its base, and storm-birds — born
of the wind one might suppose, as sea-weed of
the water— rose and fell about it, like the waves
But even here, two men who watched the
light had made a fire, that through the loophole
in the thick stone wall shed out a ray of bright-
ness on the awful sea. Joining their horny
hands over the rough table at which they sat,
they wished each other a Merry Christmas in
their can of grog ; and one of them : the elder,
too, with his face all damaged and scarred with,
hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship
might be ; struck up a sturdy song that was like
a Gale in itself
Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and
heaving sea— -on, on — until, being far away, as
he told Scrooge, from any shore, they lighted on
a ship. They stood beside the helmsman at the
wheel, the look-out in the bow, the oflioers who
had the watch ; dark, ghostly figures in their
several stations ; but every man among them
hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas
thought, or spoke below his breath to his com-
panion of some bygone Christmas Day, with,
homeward hopes belonging to it. And every
man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad,
had had a kinder word for another on that day
than on any day in the year ; and had shared to
some extent in its festivities ; and had remem-
bered those he cared for at a distance, and had
known that they delighted to remember him.
It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while
listening to the moaning of the wind, and think-
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
ing what a solemn thing it was to move on
tlirough the lonely darkness over an unknown
abyss, whose depths were secrets as profound
as Death : it was a great surprise to Scrooge,
while thus engaged, to hear a hearty laugh.
It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to
recognise it as his own nephew's, and to find
himself in a bright, dry, gleaming room, with
tlie Spirit standing smiling by his side, and
looking at that same nephew with approving
" Ha, ha !" laughed Scrooge's nephew. " Ha, ,
ha, ha !"
If yon should happen, by any unlikely chance,
to know a man more blest in a laugh than
Scrooge's nephew, all I can say is, I should like
to know him, too. Introduce him to me, and
I'll cultivate his acquaintance.
It is a fair, evcn-lmnded, noble adjustment
of things, that while there is infection in disease
and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so ir-
resistibly contagious as laughter and good-hu-
mour. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in
this way ; holding his sides, rolling his head,
and twisting his face into the most extravagant
contortions : Scrooge's niece, by marriage,
laughed as heartily as he. And their assemlded
friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out,
" Ha, ha ! Ha, ha, ha, ha !"
"He said that Christmas was a humbug, as
I live !" cried Scrooge's nephew. " He believed
" More shame for him, Fred !" said Scrooge's
niece, indignantly. Bless those women ; they
never do anything by halves. They are always
She was very pretty : exceedingly pretty.
With a dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face ;
a ripe little mouth, that seemed made to be
kissed — as no doubt it was ; all kinds of good
little dots about her chin, that melted into one
another when she laughed ; and the sunniest
pair of eyes you ever saw in any little crea-
ture's head. Altogether she was what you
would have called provoking, you know ; but
satisfactory, too. Oh, perfectly satisfactory !
" He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's
nephew, " that's the truth ; and not so pleasant
as he might be. However, his offences carry
their own punishment, and I have nothing to
say against him."
" I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted
Scrooge's niece. " At least you always tell me
" What of that, my dear I" said Scrooge's
nephew. " His wealth is of no use to him. He
don't do any good with it. He don't make
himself comfortable with it. He hasn't the
satisfaction of thinking — ha, ha, ha ! — that he
is ever going to benefit Us with it."
" I have no patience with him," observed
Scrooge's niece. Scrooge's niece's sisters, and
all the other ladies, expressed the same opinion.
" Oh, I have !" said Scrooge's nephew. " I
am sorry for him ; I couldn't be angry with him
if I tried. Who suffers by his ill whims 1 Him-
self, always. Here, he takes it into his head to
dislike us, and he won't come and dine with us.
What's the consequence 1 He don't lose much
of a dinner."
"Indeed, I think he loses a very good din-
ner," interrupted Scrooge's niece. Everybody
else said the same, and they must be allowed
to have been competent judges, because they
had just had dinner ; and, with the dessert upon
the table, were clustered round the fire, by lamp-
" Well ! I am very glad to hear it," said
Scrooge's nephew, " because I haven't any
great faith in these young housekeepers. What
do you say, Topper 1"
Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of
Scrooge's niece's sisters, for he answered that
a bachelor was a wretched outcast, who had
no right to express an opinion on the subject.
Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister — the plump
one with the lace tucker : not the one with the
roses — blushed.
" Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece,
clapping her hands. " He never finishes what
he begins to say ! He is such a ridiculous fel-
Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh,
and as it was impossible to keep the infection
off; though the plump sister tried hard to do it
with aromatic vinegar ; his example was unan-
"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's
nephew, "that the consequence of his taking a
dislike to us, and not making merry with us is,
as I think, that he loses some pleasant mo-
ments, which could do him no harm. I am
sure he loses pleasanter companions than he
can find in his own thoughts, either in his
mouldy old office, or his dusty chambers. I
mean to give him the same chance every year,
whether he likes it or not, for I pity him. He
may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he can't
help thinking better of it — I defy him— if he
finds me going there, in good temper, year after
year, and saying Uncle Scrooge, how are you 1
If it only puts him in the vein to leave his poor
clerk fifty pounds, thafs something ; and I think
I shook him yesterday."
It was their turn to laugh now, at the notion
of his shaking Scrooge. But being thoroughly
good-natured, and not much caring what they
laughed at, so that they laughed at any rate, he
encouraged them in their merriment, and passed
the bottle, joyously.
After tea, they had some music. For they
were a musical family, and knevi' what they
were about, when they sung a Glee or Catch,
I can assure you : especially Topper, who could
growl away in the bass like a good one, and
never swell the large veins in his forehead, or
get red in the face over it. Scrooge's niece
played well upon the harp ; and played among
other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing :
you might learn to whistle it in two minutes),
which had been familiar to the child who fetch-
ed Scrooge from the boarding-school, as he had
been reminded by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
When this strain of music sounded, all the
things that Ghost had shown him, came upon
his mind; he softened more and more; and
thought that if he could have listened to it oft-
en, years ago, he might have cultivated the
kindness of life for his own happiness with his
own hands, without resorting to the sexton's
spade that buried Jacob Marley.
But they didn't devote the whole evening to
music. After a while they played at forfeits ;
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
for it is good to be children soraetimes, and
never better than at Christmas, when its mighty
Pounder was a child himself. Stop ! There
-was first a game at blindman's bluff. Of course
there was. And I no more believe Topper was
Teally blind than I believe he had eyes in his
boots. My opinion is, that it was a done thing
■between him and Scrooge's nephew ; and that
the Ghost of Christmas Present knew it. The
■way he went after that plump sister in the lace
tucker, was an outrage on the credulity of hu-
man nature. Knocking down the fire-irons,
Tiumbling over the chairs, bumping up against
the piano, smothering himself among the cur-
tains, wherever she went, there went he. He
-always knew where the plump sister was. He
•wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen
up against him, as some of them did, and stood
there ; he would have made a feint of endeav-
ouring to seize you, which would have been an
aflront to your understanding ; and would in-
stantly have sidled off in the direction of the
plump sister. She often cried out that it wasn't
fair ; and it really was not. But when, at last,
he caught her ; when, in spite of all her silken
rustlings, and her rapid flutterings past him, he
got her into a corner whence there was no es-
<ape ; then his conduct was the most execrable.
Tor his pretending not to know her; his pre-
tending that it was necessary to touch her
head-dress, and further to assure himself of her
identity by pressing a certain ring upon her fin-
ger, and a certain chain about her neck ; was
vile, monstrous ! No doubt she told him her
ophiion of it, when, another blindman being in
office, they were so very confidential together,
behind the curtains.
Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind-
man's buff party, but was made comfortable
with a large chair and a footstool, in a snug
, corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge were close
behind her. But she joined in the forfeits, and
loved her love to admiration with all the letters
■of the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How,
"When, and Where, she was very great, and to
the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her
sisters hollow : though they were sharp girls
too, as Topper could have told you. There
-jnight have been twenty people there, young
and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge ;
for, wholly forgetting in the interest he had in
what was going on, that his voice made no
. sound in their ears, he sometimes came out
with his guess quite loud, and very often guess-
ed right, too ; for the sharpest needle, best
"Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the eye,
■was not sharper than Scrooge : blunt as he
took it in his head to be.
The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in
this mood, and looked upon hira with such fa-
vour that he begged like a boy to be allowed to
stay until the guests departed. But this the
Spirit said could not be done.
" Here's a new game," said Scrooge. " One
half hour. Spirit, only one !"
It was a Game called Yes and No, where
Scrooge's nephew had to think of something, and
the rest must find out what ; he only answering
to their questions yes or no as the case was.
The brisk fire of questioning to which he was
exposed, elicited from him that he was thinking
.of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagreea-
ble animal, a savage animal, an animal that
growled and grunted sometimes, and talked
sometimes, and lived in London, and walked
about the streets, and wasn't made a show of,
and wasn't led by anybody, and didn't live in a
menagerie, and was never killed in a market,
and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a
bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a
bear. At every fresh question that was put to
him, this nephew burst into a fresh roar of laugh-
ter ; and was so inexpressibly tickled, that he
was obliged to get up off the sofa and stamp.
At last the plump sister, falling into a similar
state, cried out :
" I have found it out ! I know ■^vhat it is,
Fred ! I know what it is !"
"What is it V cried Fred.
" It's your Uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge !"
Which it certainly was. Admiration was the
universal sentiment, though some objected that
the reply to " Is it a bear V ought to have been
" Yes ;" inasmuch as an answer in the negative
was sufficient to have diverted their thoughts
from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had ever had
any tendency that way.
" He has given us plenty of merriment, I am
sure," said Fred, "and it would be ungrateful
not to drink his health. Here is a glass of mull-
ed wine ready to our hand at the moment ; and
1 say 'Uncle Scrooge !' "
" Well ! Uncle Scrooge !" they cried.
" A Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
to the old man, whatever he is !" said Scrooge's
nephew. " He wouldn't take it from me, but
maybe have it, nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge !"
Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so
gay and light of heart, that he would have
pledged the unconscious company in return, and
thanked them in an inaudible speech, if the Ghost
had given him time. But the whole scene pass-
ed off in the breath of the last word spoken by
his nephew ; and he and the Spirit were again
upon their travels.
Much they saw, and far they went, and many
homes they visited, but always with a happy
end. The Spirit stood beside sick beds, and
they were cheerful ; on foreign lands, and they
were close at home ; by struggling men, and
they were patient in their greater hope ; by
poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, hos-
pital, and jail, in misery's every refuge, where
vain man in his little brief authority had not
made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out,
he left his blessing, and taught Scrooge his
It was a long night, if it were only a night ;
but Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the
Christmas Holidays appeared to be condensed
into the space of time they passed together. It
was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained
unaltered in his outward form, the Ghost grew
older, clearly older. Scrooge had observed this
change, but never spoke of it, untd they left a
children's Twelfth Night party, when, looking
at the Spirit as they stood together in an open
place, he noticed that its hair was gray.
" Are spirits' lives so short"!" asked Scrooge.
"My life upon this globe is very brief," re-
plied the Ghost. " It ends to-night."
"To-night !" cried Scrooge.
" To-night at midnight. Hark ! The time i»
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
The chimes were ringing the three quarters
past eleven at that moment.
"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I
ask," said Scrooge, loolcing intently at the Spir-
it's robe, " but I see something strange, and not
belonging to yourself, protruding from your
skirts. Is it a foot or a claw !"
" It might be a claw, for the flesh there is
upon it," was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. "Look
From the foldings of its robe, it brought two
children ; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous,
miserable. They knelt at ks feet, and clung
upon the outside of its garment.
"Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down
here !" exclaimed the Ghost.
There were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre,
ragged, scowling, wolfish ; but prostrate, too, in
thefr humility. Where graceful youth should
have filled their features out, and touched them
with its fresh tints, a stale and shrivelled hand,
like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them,
and pulled them into shreds. Where angels
might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and
glared out menacing. No change, no degrada-
tion, no perversion of humanity, in any grade,
through all the mysteries of wonderful creation,
has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them
shown to him in this way, he tried to say they
were fine children, but the words choked them-
selves, rather than be parties to a lie of such
"S|)irit! are they yours 1" Scrooge could say
" They are Man's," said the Spirit, looking
down upon them. " And they cling to me, ap-
pealing from their fathers. This boy is Igno-
rance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware
this boy, for on his brow I see that written
which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.
Deny it!" cried the Spirit, stretching out its
hand towards the city. " Slander those who
tell it ye ! Admit it for your factious purposes,
and make it worse ! And bide the end !"
"Have they no refuge or resources'!" cried
" Are there no prisons 1" said the Spirit, turn-
ing on him for the last time with his own words.
" Are there no workhouses'!"
The bell struck twelve.
Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and
saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate,
he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Mar-
ley, and hfting up his eyes, beheld a Phantom,
draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along
the ground, towards him.
THE L.4ST OF THE SPIRITS.
The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, ap-
proached. When it came near him, Scrooge
bent down upon his knee ; for in the very air
through which this Spirit moved it seemed to
scatter gloom and mystery.
It was shrouded in a deep black garment,
which concealed its head, its face, its form, and
left nothing of it visible save one outstretched
hand. But for this it would have been difficult'
to detach its figure from the night, and separate;
it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
He felt that it was tall and stately when it
came beside him, and that its mysterious pres-
ence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew
no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.
" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christ-^
mas Yet To Come V said Scrooge.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed down-
ward with its hand.
" You are about to show me shadows of the
things that have not happened, but will happea
in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. " Is
that so, Spirit 1"
The upper portion of the garment was con-
tracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit
had inclined its head. That was the only an-
swer he received.
Although well used to ghostly company by
this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so
much that his legs trembled beneath him, and
he found that he could hardly stand when he-
prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a mo-
ment, as observing his condition, and giving him.
time to recover.
But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It:
thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror, to
know that behind the dusky shroud there were
ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while he,
though he stretched his own to the utmost,
could see nothing but a spectral hand and one
great heap of black.
" Ghost of the Future !" he exclaimed, " I fear-
you more than any Spectre I have seen. But,
as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as
I hope to live to he another man from what I
was, I am prepared to bear you company, and
do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed
straight before them.
" Lead on !" said Scrooge. " Lead on ! The
night is waning fast, and it is precious time to
me, r know. Lead on, Spirit !"
The Phantom moved away as it had come
towards him. Scrooge followed in the shadow
of its dress, which bore him up, he thought, and
carried him along.
They scarcely seemed to enter the city ; for
the city rather seemed to spring up about them,
and encompass them of its own act. But there
they were, in the heat of it ; on 'Change, among
the merchants ; who hurried up and down, and
chinked the money in their pockets, and con-
versed in groups, and looked at their watches,
and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold,
seals, and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them
The Spirit stopped beside one Utile knot of
business men. Observing that the hand was
pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to
" No," said a great fat man with a monstrous
chin, " I don't know much about it, either way.
I only know he's dead."
"When did he dieV inquired another.
" Last night, I believe."
"Why, what was the matter with himi"
asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff"
out of a very large snuff-box. " I thought he'd,,
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" God knows," said the first, with a yawn.
" What has he done with his money !" asked
a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excres-
cence on the end of his nose, that shook like the
gills of a turkey-cock.
" I haven't heard," said the man with the
large chin, yawning again. " Left it to hife
Company, perhaps. He hasn't left it to me.
That's all I know."
This pleasantry was received with a general
" It's likely to he a very cheap funeral," said
the same speaker ; " for upon my life I don't
know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make
up a party and volunteer 1"
" I don't mind going if a lunch is provided,"
observed the gentleman with the excrescence on
his nose. " But I must be fed, if I make one."
"Well, I am the most disinterested among
you, after all," said the first speaker, " for I
never wear black gloves, and I never eat lunch.
But I'll offer to go, if anybody else will. When
I come to think of it, I'm not at all sure that I
wasn't his most particular friend ; for we used
to stop and speak whenever we met. Bye,
' Speakers and listeners strolled away, and
mixed with other groups. Scrooge knew the
men, and looked towards the Spirit for an ex-
The Phantom glided on into a street. Its
finger pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge
listened again, thinking that the explanation
might lie here.
He knew these men, also, perfectly. They
were men of business ; very wealthy, and of
great importance. He had made a point always
of standing well in their esteem : in a business
point of view, that is ; strictly in a business
point of view.
" How are you V said one.
" How are you?' returned the other.
""Well !" said the first. " Old Scratch has
got his own at last, heyl"
" So I am told," returned the second " Cold,
" Seasonable for Christmas time. You're not
a skater, I suppose V
" No. No. Something else to think of. Good
Not another word. That was their meeting,
their conversation, and their parting.
Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised
that the Spirit should attach importance to con-
versations apparently so trivial ; but feeling as-
sured that they must have some hidden purpose,
he set himsell' to consider what it was likely to
be. They could scarcely be supposed to have
any bearing on the death of Jacob, his old part-
ner, for that was Past, and this Ghost's pro-
vince was the Future. Nor could he think of
any one immediately connected wih hirjjself, to
whom he could apply them. But nothing doubt-
ing that to whomsoever they applied they had
some latent moral for his own improvement,
he resolved to treasure up every word he heard,
and everything he saw ; and espwially to ob-
serve the shadow of himself when it appeared.
For he had an expectation that the conduct of
his future self would give him the clue he miss-
ed, and would render the solution of these rid-
He looked about in that very place for his
own image ; but another man stood in his ac-
customed corner, and though the clock pointed
to his usual time of day for being there, he saw
no likeness of himself among the multitudes
that poured in through the Porch. It gave him
little surprise, however, for he had been revolv-
ing in his mind a change of life, and thought
and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions
carried out in this.
Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phan-
tom, with its outstretched hand. When he
roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he
fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situa-
tion in reference to himself, that the Unseen.
Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made
him shudder, and feel very cold.
They left the busy scene, and went into an ,
obscure part of the town, where Scrooge had
never penetrated before, although he recognised
its situation, and its bad repute. The way.s
were foul and narrow ; the shops and houses
wretched ; the people half-naked, drunken, slip-
shod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many
cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell, and
dirt, and life, upon the straggling streets, and
the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth,
Far in this den of infamous resort, there was
a low-browed, beetling shop, below a pent-house
roof, where iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and
greasy olTal were bought. Upon the floor with-
in, were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails,
chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, and refuse
iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would like
to scrutinize were bred and hidden in mount-
ains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat,
and sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the
wares he dealt in, by a charcoal-stove, made of
old bricks, was a gray-haired rascal, nearly
seventy years of age, who had screened him-
self from the cold air without, by a frousy cur-
taining of miscellaneous tatters, hung upon a.
line, and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of
Scrooge and the Phantom came into the
presence of this man just as a woman with a
heavy bundle slunk into the shop. But she had
scarcely entered, when another woman, simi-
larly laden, came in too ; and she was closely
followed by a man in faded black, who was no
less startled by the sight of them than they had
been upon the recognition of each other. After
a short period of blank astonishment, in which
the old man with the pipe had joined them,
they all three burst into a laugh.
" Let the charwoman alone to be the first !"
cried she who had entered first. " Let the
laundress alone to be the second ; and let the
undertaker's man alone to be the third. Loeik.
here, old Joe, here's a chance. If we haven't
all three met here without meaning it !"
" You couldn't have met in a better place,"
said old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth.
" Come into the parlour. You were made free
of it long ago, you know ; and the other two
an't strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the
shop. Ah ! How it skreeks ! There an't such
a rusty bit of metal in the place as its own hin-
ges, I believe, and I'm sure there's no such old
bones here as mine. Ha, ha ! We're all suit-
able to our calling, we're well matched. Coma
into the parlour. Come into the parlour."
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
The parlour was the space behind the screen
'Of rags. The old man raked the fire together
■with an old stair-rod, and having trimmed his
smoky lamp (for it was night) with the stem of
his pipe, put it in his mouth again.
While he did this the woman who had al-
Teady spoken threw her bundle on the floor and
sat down in a flaunting manner on a stool ;
■crossing her elbows on her knees, and looking
■with a bold defiance at the other two.
"What odds, then! What odds, Mrs. Dil-
herV said the woman. "Every person has a
Tight to take care of themselves. He always
" That's true, indeed !" said the laundress.
•" No man more so."
" Why, then, don't stand stanng as if you
-was afraid, woman ; who's the wiser 1 We're
not going to pick holes in each other's coats, I
suppose I "
" No, indeed !" said Mrs. Dilber and the man
together. " We should hope not."
"Very well, then !" cried the woman. " That's
enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few
things like these 1 Not a dead man, I suppose."
'No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing.
' " If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead,
a wicked old screw," pursued the woman, " why
-wasn't he natural in his lifetime i If he had
been, he'd have had somebody to look after him
when he was struck with Death, instead of ly-
ing gasping out his last there, alone by him-
"It's the truest word that ever was spoke,
said Mrs.Dilber. " It's a judgment on him."
" I wish it was a little heavier one," replied
the woman ; " and it should have been, you may
depend upon it, if I covdd have laid my hands
on anything else. Open that bundle, old Joe,
and let me know the value of it. Speak out
plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid
for them to see it. We knew pretty well that
we were helping ourselves, before we met here,
1 believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe."
But the gallantry of her friends would not al-
low of this ; and the man in faded black, mount-
ing the breach first, produced his plunder. It
>\'as not extensive. A seal or two, a pencil-case,
a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no
great value, were all. They were severally ex-
amined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked
the sums he was disposed to give for each upon
the wall, and added them up in a total when he
ibund that there was nothing more to come.
"That's your account," said Joe, "and I
■wouldn't give another sixpence, if I was to be
boiled for not doing it. Who's next 1"
Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a
little wearing apparel, two old-fashioned silver
teaspoons, a pair of sugar-tongs, and a few
boots. Her account was stated on the wall in
, the same manner.
" I always give too much to ladies. It's a
weakness of mine, and that's the way I ruin
myself," said old Joe. " That's your account.
If you asked me for another penny, and made it
an open question, I'd repent of being so liberal,
and knock off half-a-crown."
" And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the
Joe went down on his knees for the greater
.convenience of opening it, and having unfasten-
ed a great many knots, dragged out a large and
heavy roll of some dark stuff.
" What do you call this 1" said Joe. " Bed-
" Ah I" returned the woman, laughing and
leaning forward on her crossed arms. " Bed-
" You don't mean to say you took 'em down,
rings and all, with him lying there V said Joe.
"Yes, I do," replied the woman. "Why
" You were born to make your fortune," saiu
Joe, " and you'll certainly do it."
"I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I
can get anything in it by reaching it out, for the
sake of such a man as He was, I promise you,
Joe," returned the woman, coolly. " Don't
drop that oil upon the blankets, now."
" His blankets V asked Joe.
"Whose else's do you think?" replied the
woman. " He isn't likely to take cold without
'em, I dare say."
" I hope he didn't die of anything catching 7
EhV' said old Joe, stopping in his work, and
"Don't you be afraid of -that," returned the
woman, " I an't so fond of his company that
I'd loiter about him for such things, if he did.
Ah ! You may look through that shirt till your
eyes ache ; but you won't find a hole in it, nor
a threadbare place. It's the best he had, and
a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if it
hadn't been for me."
"What do you call wasting of it V asked old
" Putting it on him to be buried in, to be
sure," replied the woman with a laugh. " Some-
body was fool enough to do it, but I took it ofF
again. If calico an't good enough for'such a
purpose, it isn't good enough for anything. It's
quite as becoming to the body. He can't look
uglier than he did in that one."
Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror.
As they sat grouped about their spoil, in the
scanty light afforded by the old man's lamp, he
viewed them with a detestation and disgust,
which could hardly have been greater, though
they had been obscene demons, marketing the
" Ha, ha !" laughed the same woman, when
old Joe, producing a flannel bag with money in
it, told out their several gains upon the ground.
" This is the end of it, you see ! He frighten-
ed every one away from him when he was alive,
to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha !"
" Spirit !" said Scrooge, shuddering from
head to foot. " I see, I see. The case of this
unhappy man might be my own. My life tends
that wav. now. Merciful Heaven, what is
He recoiled in terror, for the scene had
changed, and now he almost touched a bed : a
bare,''uncurtained bed : on which, beneath a
ragged sheet, there lay a something covered up,
whfch, though it was dumb, announced itself in
The room was very dark, too dark to be ob-
served with any accuracy, though Scrooge
glanced round it in obedience to a secret im-
pulse, anxious to know what kind of room it
was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell
straight upon the bed ; and on it, plundered and
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
'bereft, unwatched, unwept, unoared for, was
the body of this man.
Scrooge glanced towards the phantom. Its
steady hand was pointed to the head. The
cover was so carelessly adjusted that the
slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger
upon Scrooge's part, would have disclosed the
face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would
be to do, and longed to do it ; but had no more
■power to withdraw ths veil than to dismiss the
spectre at his side.
Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up
thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors
as thou hast at thy command : for this is thy
dominion ! But of the loved, revered, and hon-
oured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy
dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It
is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down
when released; it is not that the heart and
pulse are still ; but that the hand was open,
generous, and true ; the heart brave, warm,
and tender ; and the pulse a man's. Strike,
Shadow, strike ! And see his good deeds
springing from the wound, to sow tlie world
•with life immortal !
No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's
ears, and yet he heard them when he looked
upon the bed. He thought, if this man could
be raised up now, what would be his foremost
thoughts] Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares'!
They have brought him into a rich end, truly !
'■ He lay, in the dark empty house, with not a
man, a woman, or a child, to say he was kind
to me in this or that, and for the memory of
one kind word I will be kind to him. A cat
was tearing at the door, and there was a sound
of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone.
"What they wanted in the room of death, and
-why they were so restless and disturbed,
Scrooge did not dare to think.
"Spirit!" he said, "this is a fearful place.
In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust
Tne. Let us go !"
1 Still the ghost pointed with an unmoved fin-
ger to the head.
" I understand you," Scrooge returned, " and
I would do it, if I could. But I have not the
power. Spirit. I have not the power."
Again it seemed to look upon him.
" If there is any person in the town who feels
emotion caused by this man'-s death," said
Scrooge, quite agonized, " show that person to
me. Spirit, I beseech you !"
The phantom spread its dark robe before him
for a moment, like a wing ; and withdrawing it,
revealed a room by daylight, where a mother
and her children were.
i She was expecting some one, and with anx-
ious eagerness ; for she walked up and down
the room ; started at every sound ; looked out
from the window ; glanced at the clock ; tried,
tat in vain, to work with her needle ; and could
bardly bear the voices of the children in their
At length the long-expected knock was heard.
'She hurried to the door, and met her husband ;
a man whose face was care-worn and depres-
sed, though he was young. There was a re-
markable expression in it now ; a kind of seri-
ous delight of which he felt ashamed, and which
Jie struggled to repress.
iie sat down to the dinner that had been
hoarding for him by the fire ; and when she
asked him faintly what news (which was not
until after a long silence), he appeared embar-
rassed how to answer.
" Is it good," she said, " or bad !" to help him.
" Bad," he answered.
"We are quite ruined V
"No. There is hope yet, Caroline."
" If he relents," she said, amazed, " there is !
Nothing is past hope, if such a miracle has hap-
" He is past relenting," said her husband.
" He is dead."
She was a mild and patient creature, if her
face spoke truth ; but she was thankful in her
soul to hear it, and she said so, with clasped
hands. She prayed forgiveness the next mo-
ment, and was sorry ; but the first was the
emotion of her heart.
" What the half-drunken woman, whom I told
you of last night, said to me when I tried to
see him and obtain a week's delay ; and what
I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me ;
turns out to have been quite true. He was not
only very ill, but dying, then."
"To whom will our debt be transferred V
" I don't know. But before that time we
shall be ready with the money ; and even
though we were not, it would be bad fortune,
indeed, to find so merciless a creditor in his
successor. We may sleep to-night with light
hearts, Caroline !"
Yes. Soften it as they would, their hearts
were lighter. The children's faces hushed, and
clustered round to hear what they so little un-
derstood, were brighter; and it was a happier
house for this man's death I The only emo-
tion that the Ghost could show him, caused by
the event, was one of pleasure.
" Let me see some tenderness connected
with a death," said Scrooge ; " or that dark
chamber. Spirit, which we left just now, will
be for ever present to me."
The Ghost conducted him through several
streets familiar to his feet ; and as they went
along, Scrooge looked here and there to find
himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. They
entered poor Bob Cratchit's house; the dwell-
ing he had visited before ; and found the mother
and the children seated round the fire.
Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Crat-
chits were as stUl as statues in one corner,
and sat looking up at Peter, who had a book
before him. The mother and her daughters
were engaged in sewing. But surely they were
very quiet !
" 'And He took a child, and set him in the
midst of them.' "
Where had Scrooge heard those words 1 He
had not dreamed them. The boy must have
read them out, as he and the Spirit crossed the
threshold. Why did he not go onj
The mother laid her work upon the table,
and put her hand up to her face.
The colour hurts my eyes," she said.
The colour"! Ah, poor Tiny Tim !
" They're better now again," said Cratcliit's
wife. " It makes them weak by candle-light ;
and I wouldn't show weak eyes to your father
when he comes home, for the world. It must
be near his time."
" Past it, rather," Peter answered, shutting
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
up his book. " But I think he's walked a little
slower than he used, these few last evenings,
They were very quiet again. At last she
said, and in a steady, cheerful voice, that only
faultered once :
" I have known him walk with — I have
known him walk with Tiny Tim upon his
shoulder, very fast, indeed."
" And so have I," cried Peter. " Often."
" And so have I !" exclaimed another. So
" But he was very light to carry," she resu-
med, intent upon her work, "and his father
loved hitn so, that it was no trouble— no trouble.
And there is your father at the door !"
She hurried out to meet him ; and little Bob
in his comforter— he had need of it, poor fel-
low — came in. His tea was ready for him on
the hob, and they all tried who should help him
to it most. Then the two young Cratchits got
upon his knees and laid, each child a little
cheek, against his face, as if they said, "Don't
mind it, father. Don't be grieved !"
Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke
pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the
work upon the table, and praised the industry
and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They
would be done long before Sunday, he said.
" Sunday ! You went to-day, then, Robert 1"
said his wife.
" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish
you could have gone. It would have done you
good to see how green a place it is. But you'll
see it often. I promised him that I would walk
there on a Sunday. My little, little child !"
cried Bob. " My little chUd !"
He broke down all at once. He couldn't help
it. If he could have helped it, he and his child
would have been farther apart, perhaps, than
He left the room, and went upstairs into the
room above, which was lighted cheerfully, and
hung with Christmas. There was a chair set
close beside the child, and there were signs of
some one having been there lately. Poor Bob
sat down in it, and when he had thought a lit-
tle and composed himself, he kissed the little
face. He was reconciled to what had happen-
ed, and went down again quite happy.
They drew about the fire, and talked ; the
girls and mother working still. Bob told them
of the extraordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's
nephew, whom he had scarcely seen but once,
and who, meeting him in the street that day,
and seeing that he looked a little — " just a little
down you know," said Bob, enquired what had
happened to distress him. " On. which," said
Bob, " for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentle-
man you ever heard, I told him. ' I am heart-
ily sorry for it, Mr. Cratchit,' he said, ' and
heartily sorry for your good wife.' By the bye,
how he ever knew that, I don't know."
" Knew what, my dear 1"
" Why, that you were a good wife," replied
"Everybody knows that !" said Peter.
"Very well observed, my boy!" cried Bob.
" I hope they do. ' Heartily sorry,' he said,
' for your good wife. If I can be of service to
you in any way,' he said, giving me his card,
' that's where I live. Pray come to me.' Now,
it wasn't," cried Bob, " for the sake of anything-
he might be able to do for us, so much as for his
kind way, that this was quite deliglitful. It
really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim,
and felt with us."
"I'm sure he's a good soul!" said Mrs.
" You would be surer of it, my dear," return-
ed Bob, " if you saw and spoke to him. I
shouldn't be at all surprised, mark what I say,
if he got Peter a better situation."
" Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Chratchit.
" And then," cried one of the girls, " Peter
will be keeping company with some one, and
setting up for himself"
" Get along with you !" retorted Peter, grin-
" It's just as likely as not," said Bob, " one
of these days ; though there's plenty of time for
that, my dear. But however and whenever we
part from one another, I am sure we shall none
of us forget poor Tiny Tim— shall we— or this
first parting that there was among us"!"
"Never, father!" cried they all.
" And I know," said Bob, " I know, my dears,
that when we recollect how patient and how
mild he was ; although he was a little, little
child ; we shall not quarrel easily among our-
selves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it."
"No, never, father !" they all cried again.
" I am very happy," said little Bob, " I am
very happy !"
Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kiss-
ed him, the two young Cratchits kissed him,
and Peter and himself shook hands. Spirit of
Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was from God !
" Spectre," said Scrooge, " something informs
me that our parting moment is at hand. I know
it, but I know not how. Tell me what man
that was whom we saw lying dead 1"
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come con-
veyed him, as before — though at a different time,-
he thought ; indeed, there seemed no order in
these latter visions, save that they were in the
Future — into the resorts of business men, but
showed him not himself Indeed, the Spirit did
not stay for anything, but went straight on, as.
to the end just now desired, until besought by
Scrooge to tarry for a moment.
" This court," said Scroogev "through which
we hurry now, is where my place of occupation
is, and has been for a length of time. I see the
house. Let me behold what I shall be, in days
The Spirit stopped; the hand was pointed
" The house is yonder," Scrooge exclaimed.
" Why do you point away 1"
The inexorable finger underwent no change.
Scrooge hastened to the window of his office,,
and looked in. It was an office still, but not
his. The furniture was not the same, and the
figure in the chair was not himself The Phan-
tom pointed as before.
He joined it once again, and wondering why
and whither he had gone, accompanied it until
they reached an iron gate. He paused to look
round before entering.
A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched
man whose name he had now to learn, lay un-
derneath the ground. It was a worthy place.
Walled in by houses ; overrun by grass and
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
weeds, the growth of vegetation's death, not
life; choked up with too much burying; fat
With repleted appetite. A worthy place !
The Spirit stood among the graves, and point-
ed down to One. He advanced towards it
trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had
been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning
in its solemn shape.
" Before I draw nearer to that stone to which
you point," said Scrooge, "answer me one ques-
tion. Are these the shadows of the things that
"Will be, or are they shadows of the things that
May be, only '!"
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the
grave by which it stood.
" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends,
to which, if persevered in, they must lead,"
.said Scrooge. " But if the courses be departed
from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with
what you show me !"
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he
went ; and following the finger, read upon the
stone of the neglected grave his own name,
" Am 1 that man who lay upon the bed 1" he
cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him,
and back again.
"No, Spirit! Oh no, no !"
The finger still was there.
" Spirit !" he cried, tight clutching at its
robe, " hear me ! I am not the man I was. I
will not be the man I must have been but for
this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am
past all hope?"
For the first time the hand appeared to
"Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon
the ground he fell before it : " Your nature in-
tercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me
that I yet may change these shadows you have
shown me, by an altered life !"
The kind hand trembled.
" I will honour Christmas in my heart, and
try to keep it all the year. I will live in the
Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits
••of all three shall strive within me. I will not
•shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell
me I may sponge away the writing on this
In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It
sought to free itself, but he was strong in his
entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger
yet, repulsed him.
Holding up his hands in one last prayer to
have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in
the phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, col-
lapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.
THE END OF IT.
Yes ! and the bedpost was his own. The
bed was his own, the room was his own. Best
and happiest of all, the Time before him was
his own to make amends in !
" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the
Future !" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled
out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall
strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley f Heaven,
and the Christmas Time be praised for this ! I
say it on my knees, old Jacob ; on my knees !"
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his
good intentions, that his broken voice would
scarcely answer to his call. He had been sob-
bing violently in his conflict with the Spirit,
and his face was wet with tears.
" They are not torn down," cried Scrooge,
folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms,
" they are not torn down, rings and all. They
are here : I am here : the shadows of the things
that would have been, may be dispelled. They
will be. I know they will !''
His hands were busy with his garments all
this time : turning them inside out, putting them
on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them,
making them parties to every kind of extrava-
"I don't know what to do !" cried Scrooge,
laughing and crying in the same breath ; and
making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his
stockings. " I am as light as a feather, I am
as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a
school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.
A merry Christmas to everybody ! A happy
New Year to all the world. Hallo here !
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and
was now standing there : perfectly winded.
"There's the saucepan that the gruel was
in !" cried Scrooge, starting off again, and
frisking round the fire-place. " There's the
door by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley en-
tered ! There's the corner where the Ghost of
Christmas Present sat ! There's the window
where I saw the wandering Spirits ! It's aril
right, it's all true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha !"
Really, for a man who had been out of prac-
tice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh,
a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long,
long, line of brilliant laughs I
" I don't know what day of the month it is !"
said Scrooge. " I don't know how long I've
been among the Spirits. I don't know anything.
I'm quite a baby. Never mind. I don't care.
I'd rather be a baby. Hallo ! Whoop ! Hallo
He was checked in his transports by the
churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had
ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong,
bell. Bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash !
Oh, glorious, glorious !
Running to the window, he opened it, and
put out his head. No fog, no mist ; clear,
bright, jovial, stirring, cold ; cold, piping for
the blood to dance to ; Golden sunlight ; Heav-
enly sky ; sweet fresh air ; merry bells. Oh,
glorious, glorious !
"What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling
downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who
perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
" Eh 1" returned the boy, with all his might
"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said
" To-day !" replied the boy. " Why, Chkist-
" It's Christmas Day !" said Scrooge to him-
self "I haven't missed it. The S|)irils have
done it all in one night. They can do anythi?ig
they like. Of course they can. Of oours-j they
can. Hallo, my fine fellow !"
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
" Hallo !" returned the boy.
" Do you know the Poulterer's, in the next
street but one, at the corner 1" Scrooge inqui-
" I should hope I did," replied the lad.
" An inteiligent boy !" said Scrooge. " A re-
markable boy ! Do you know whether they've
sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up
there! Not the little prize Turkey: the big
" What, the one as big as me V returned the
' ' What a delightful boy !" said Scrooge. " It s
a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck !"
" It's hanging there now," replied the boy.
" Is it 1" said Scrooge. " Go and buy it."
" Walk-ER !" exclaimed the boy.
" No, no," said Scrooge, " I am in earnest.
Go and buy it, and tell 'em to bring it here, that
I may give them the direction where to take it.
Come back with the man, and I'll give you a
shilling. Come back with him in less than five
minutes, and I'll give you half-a-crown !"
The boy was off like a shot. He must have
had a steady hand at a trigger who could have
got a shot off half so fast.
" I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's !" whispered
Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with
alaugh. " He sha'n't know who sends it. It's
twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never
made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will
The hand in which he wrote the address was
not a steady one, but write it he did, somehow,
and went down stairs to open the street door,
ready for the coming of the poulterer's man.
As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the
knocker caught his eye.
"I shall love it as long as I live!" cried
Scrooge, patting it with his hand. " I scarcely
ever looked at it before. What an honest ex-
pression it has in its face ! It's a wonderful
knocker !— Here's the Turkey. Hallo! Whoop!
How are you ! Merry Christmas !"
It was a Turkey ! He never could have stood
upon his legs, that bird. He would have snap-
ped 'em short off in a minute, like sticks of
" Why, it's impossible to carry that to Cam-
den Town," said Scrooge. " You must have a
The chuckle with which he said this, and the
chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and
the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and
the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy,
were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with
which he sat down breathless in his chair again,
and chuckled till he cried.
Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand
continued to shake very much ; and shaving re-
quires attention, even when you don't dance
while you are at it. But if he had cut the end
of his nose off, he would have put a piece of
sticking- plaister over it, and been quite satisfied.
He dressed himself " all in his best," and at
last got into the streets. The people were by
this time pouring forth, as he had seen them
with the Ghost of Christmas Present; and
walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge re-
garded every one with a delighted smile. He
looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that
three or four good-humoured iellows said " Good
morning, sir ! A merry Christmas to you !"
And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all
the blithe sounds he had ever heard, tliose were-
the blithest in his ears.
He had not gone far, when coming on towards
him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had
walked into his counting-house the day before
and said, " Scrooge and Marley's, I believe 1"
It sent a pang across his heart to think how this
old gentleman would look upon him when they
met ; but he knew what path lay straight before
him, and he took it.
" My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his
pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his
hands. " How do you do 1 I hope you suc-
ceeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A
merry Christmas to you, sir !"
" Mr. Scrooge 1"
" Yes," said Scrooge. " That is my name,
and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow
me to ask your pardon. And will you have the
goodness"— here Scrooge whispered in his ear.
" Lord bless me !" cried the gentleman, as
if his breath were gone. " My dear Mr. Scrooge,,
are you serious V
" If you please," said Scrooge. " Not a far-
thing less. A great many back- payments are
included in it, I assure you. Will you do me
that favour 1"
" My dear sir," said the other, shaking hands
with him. " I don't know what to say to such
munifi — "
" Don't say anything, please," retorted
Scrooge. " Come and see me. Will you come
and see me V
" I will !" cried the old gentleman. And it
was clear he meant to do it.
" Thank'ee," said Scrooge. " I am much
obliged to you. I thank you fifty times. Bless
He went to church, and walked about the
streets, and watched the people hurrying to and
fro, and patted children on the head, and ques-
tioned beggars, and looked down into the kitch-
ens of houses, and up to the windows ; and
found that everything could yield him pleasure.
He had never dreamed that any walk— that any-
thing—could give him so much happiness. In
the afternoon he turned his steps towards his
He passed the door a dozen times, before he
had tire courage to go up and knock. But he
made a dash, and did it.
" Is your master at home, my dear ?" said
Scrooge to the girl. Nice girl ! Very.
" Yes, sir."
" Where is he, my level" said Scrooge.
"He's in the dining-room, sir, along with
mistress. I'll show you up stairs, if you please."
" Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge,
with his hand already on the dining-room lock.
" I'll go in here, my dear."
He turned it gently, and sidled his face in,
round the door. They were looking at the ta-
ble (which was spread out in great array) ; for
these young housekeepers are always nervous
on such points, and like to see that everything
" Fred !" said Scrooge.
Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage
started ! Scrooge had forgotten, for the mo-
ment, about her silting in the corner with tlie
A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
footstool, or he wouldn't have done it, on any
" Why bless my soul !"' cried Fred, " who's
" It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come
to dinner. Will you let me in, Fred 1"
Let him in! It is a mercy he didn't shake
his arm off. He was at home in five minutes.
Nothing could be heartier. His niece looked
just the same. So did Topper when he came.
So did the plump sister when she came. So
did every one when they came. Wonderful
party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity
won-der-ful happiness !
But he was early at the office next morning
Oh he was early there. If he could only be
there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming
late ! That was the thing he had set his heart
And he did it ; yes, he did ! The clock struck
nme. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He
was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his
time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open,
that he might see him come into the Tank.
His hat was off, before he opened the door •
his comforter too. He was on his stool in a
jiffy ; driving away with his pen, as if he were
trying to overtake nine o'clock.
' "Hallo!" growled Scrooge, in his accustom-
ed voice as near as he could feign it. " What do
you mean by coming here at this time of day
" I'm very sorry, sir," said Bob. "I am be-
hind my time."
"You arel" repeated Scrooge. "Yes. I
think you are. Step this way, if you please."
"It's only once a year, sir," pleaded Bob,
appearing from the tank. " It shall not be re-
Pe^ated. I was making rather merry yesterday,
" Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said
Scrooge, " I am not going to stand this sort of
thing any longer. And therefore," he contin-
ued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob
such a dig m the waistcoat that he staggered
back into the Tank again : "and therefore I am
about to raise your salary !"
Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the
ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking
Scrooge down with it ; holding him ; and cal£'
mg to the people in the court for help and a
" A merry Christmas, Bob !" said Scrooge
with an earnestness that could not be mistakin'
as he clapped him on the back. " A merrier
Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have
given you, for many a year ! I'll raise your
salary, and endeavour to assist your strugglinff
family, and we will diso«ss your affairs this
very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smo-
kmg bishop. Bob ! Make up the fires, and buy
another coal-scuttle before you dot another i
Bob Cratchit !" '
Scrooge was better than his word. He did
It all, and infinitely more ; and to Tiny Tim,
who did NOT die, he was a second father. He
became as good a friend, as good a master, and
as good a man, as the good old city knew, or
any other good old city, town, or borough, in
the good old world. Some people laughed to
see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh,
and little heeded them ; for he was wise enough
to know that nothing ever happened on this^
globe, for good, at which some people did not
have their fill of laughter in the outset ; and
knowing that such as these would be blind any-
way, he thought it quite as well that they should
wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the
malady in less attractive forms. His own heart
laughed : and that was quite enough for him.
He had no farther intercourse with Spirits,
but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle,
ever afterward ; and it was always said of him,
that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if
any man alive possessed the knowledge. May
that be truly said of us, and all of us ! And
so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every
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